KUWAIT: Expatriates returning from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon wait to be tested at the health ministry containment and screening zone for coronavirus at the Mishref fairgrounds yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh yesterday issued a stern warning that curfew could be imposed and some expats will be deported immediately in case people do not comply with measures to contain the coronavirus. The minister told Kuwait TV that he was unhappy about people venturing out unnecessarily, violating measures announced by the government to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the country, as new cases of the deadly disease were announced yesterday.

“The government will not accept under any circumstance to see the collapse of the health regime in the country just for failure to comply with official guidelines and instructions,” the minister said. He stressed that obeying government instructions is a must and the government will resort to other decisions if citizens and expatriates disobey orders and endanger the health regime. Saleh noted that many expatriates showed honorable abidance, but regrettably, the behavior of some others has to be faced with legal measures.

“Let me be very clear – the government will not hesitate to impose curfew or the immediate deportation of violating expatriates if there is no compliance with instructions,” the minister said. Saleh said the government has repeatedly appealed to people not to venture out of homes except for necessity, insisting that food reserves in the country are plenty and sufficient. The minister’s warning comes a day after the government floated the idea that imposing curfew in the country was one of the options and appealed to the public to stay at home.

The Council of Ministers meanwhile approved toughening penalties against violators of a 1969 law that governs measures of safeguarding the country against an epidemic. The Cabinet also discussed ways to repatriate some 9,000 Kuwaitis from abroad, which is linked to preparing quarantines for them. The Cabinet also increased the budgets of ministries and governmental departments by KD 500 million for the fiscal year 2020/2021 to face the coronavirus. It also established a temporary fund for receiving financial contributions to support the government’s efforts to fight the virus.

The ministry of health meanwhile reported 11 new coronavirus cases – 10 Kuwaitis and one Egyptian woman who returned from Egypt, raising the number of infections to 123. Of the 10 Kuwaiti cases, one had returned from Iran, one from the US, four from the UK, one from Qatar and three who came in contact with those who returned from the UK.

The health ministry said three new cases have recovered, bringing the number to 12 who have been discharged. Of the remaining 111 cases, four are in the intensive care unit. In the meantime, 564 people have been released from ministry quarantines after they were proved to be healthy. The ministry said it placed under quarantine more than 200 mostly Asian residents of a building in Farwaniya after an Indian tested positive for coronavirus. The health ministry also continued to test Egyptians, Syrians and Lebanese who arrived back from March 1 onwards. Today, testing will be for such residents of Ahmadi governorate.

MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari called on the government to pay citizens an additional month’s pay to help them cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus. He also called for asking banks to stop deducting installments for their loans. MP Osama Al-Shaheen called for deferring the payment of all commercial and consumer loans until the end of the crisis. He also called on the government and charity societies to provide expatriate workers who work on a daily basis with food throughout the crisis, because they have been hit hard by the coronavirus.