KUWAIT: Indian Ambassador Sibi George addresses an open house at the embassy on Wednesday.

By Sajeev K Peter

KUWAIT: Indian Ambassador Sibi George confirmed this week that Covishied, the vaccine manufactured in India for the prevention of COVID-19 is the same as Oxford AstraZeneca and it has been approved by the Kuwait’s health ministry. “The Indian embassy has issued a press release clarifying that as per Kuwaiti Health Ministry officials, Covishield is an approved vaccine as it is the same as AstraZeneca, and no one, no one who holds a certificate of AstraZeneca will face difficulties on return,” the ambassador said while addressing an open house at the embassy on Wednesday.

He said the issue related to QR code on the vaccination certificate has been raised with the concerned authorities both in India and in Kuwait and the problem is expected to be sorted out soon. The ambassador welcomed the decision by the Director General of Civil Aviation of Kuwait on easing of travel restrictions.

“It is a welcome decision as it allows entry of stranded Indians to Kuwait. However, it is not a direct entry, but through a third country without 14 days in those countries. It is also clarified that those doing PCR test on arrival need not go into quarantine if their PCR results are found to be negative,” he said. He called on Indian nationals to wait for a few more days to get more clarity on the matter before booking tickets.

In view of the evolving situation, the embassy has converted its team handling WhatsApp numbers and its 24×7 helpline numbers, as ‘Rapid Response Team’ for answering queries on travel guidelines and vaccination certification registration. “We keep updating the officers concerned on the new guidelines. In case, anyone get stuck at airports for any reason, they may contact the ‘Rapid Response Team’ for assistance. Let me assure you we will extend all support,” he said.

The Indian Community Support Group (ICSG), instituted by the Indian embassy, Kuwait, will offer a financial assistance of Indian rupees 100,000 (approximately KD 410) to each of the families of the low-income domestic workers who died of COVID-19 in Kuwait, the ambassador said. The financial assistance will be sent to the legal heir of those with a monthly salary of less than KD 120.

The ambassador said 546 deaths of Indian nationals have been reported so far in Kuwait related to COVID-19 pandemic, of which at least hundred people belong to low-income group. “I thank ICSG for this noble decision. We will contact the next of kin and support them,” he said.

Expressing personal condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones due to COVID-19, he thanked doctors, nurses and other medical professional for their continued support to many who are still facing difficulties due to the pandemic situation.

The decision by the India government to open a NEET exam center in Kuwait, the first center outside India, is a welcome news. “We are thankful to honorable Prime Minister of India and honorable Education Minister of India for taking this historic decision which help our students and parents,” he added.