KUWAIT: People queue up to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the makeshift Kuwait Vaccination Center in Mishref’s Kuwait International Fairground Tuesday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Lawmakers yesterday strongly criticized the government and the health ministry for allegedly failing to handle the coronavirus pandemic amid a shortage of vaccinations. The Ministry of Health has already rescheduled the timing of the second vaccination after the first to four weeks instead of three for Pfizer and to four months instead of three for AstraZeneca due to shortage of supplies. It exempted people above 60 and those with chronic diseases from the extension.

MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari criticized the failure of the health ministry to notify people about the second doze of the vaccination even if the reason was shortage of supplies from manufacturers, adding that the ministry should have provided people with full information. The lawmaker said the government continues to mismanage the coronavirus pandemic with confusing decisions like banning those who have not been vaccinated from travel and at the same time allowing expat teachers to return although the school year is about to finish.

Decision “unconstitutional”
MP Muhannad Al-Sayer described the handling of the coronavirus issue as “bad” especially with regards to vaccinations which are not available now. MP Osama Al-Shaheen said the decision to bar unvaccinated citizens to leave the country is unconstitutional and the prime minister should as a result bear grave legal and political responsibilities.

MP Ahmad Al-Azemi, who had already filed to grill the health minister over the coronavirus, said the minister has proven his failure in handling the pandemic because even after spending hundreds of millions of dinars, there is a shortage in vaccines. He said that Health Minister Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah should apologize to the people and quit his post after the ministry was forced to reschedule the timings of the second vaccination “which proves mismanagement and the minister’s failure to face the pandemic”.

Five MPs meanwhile yesterday submitted a motion calling to set up a temporary parliamentary committee to periodically assess government measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The motion said the government handling of the pandemic has not been transparent and many statistics and information have been kept confidential, adding that several panels established by the health ministry did not perform well.

Illegal expats
In the meantime, MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji yesterday asked Interior Minister Sheikh Thamer Al-Sabah about the numbers and nationalities of expatriates who have been living illegally in the country. The lawmaker asked the minister for a copy of the latest decision on illegal expatriates that extended the duration for them to legalize their stay or leave the country.

Turaiji asked the minister about what measures the ministry plans to take against illegal expats who failed to benefit from the ministry amnesty and also against their sponsors. MP Abdullah Al-Mudhaf also asked the interior and commerce ministers about the number of illegal expats and their sponsors.