By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The health ministry announced yesterday that it had detected an unspecified number of cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, previously known as the Indian variant, amid a clear spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kuwait. In a statement to KUNA, Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad provided no details on the number of Delta variant cases, when they were discovered and whether they were detected among citizens or expats.

Dr Al-Sanad said in a statement the ministry is conducting genetic examinations of the virus on a regular basis to study patterns of the spread of COVID strains in Kuwait and coordinating with countries around the world to combat the virus. The Delta strain has been detected in more than 62 countries throughout the world.

With the emergence of new strains of the coronavirus in some countries, the health ministry has scrambled to take precautionary measures such as genetic planning by specialized technical teams to contain the virus, Dr Al-Sanad added. He called on the public to observe strict health precautions to ward off the pandemic, as official statistics show that Kuwait has reported more than 1,300 coronavirus cases every day since June 7. The spike comes shortly after the government ended a partial curfew and reopened malls, restaurants and cafes and a host of other activities.

Health officials announced 1,563 people tested positive yesterday for the coronavirus, while eight related deaths were reported, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 329,526 and the death toll to 1,820. Another 1,464 people recovered from the virus, raising total recoveries to 311,559, Dr Al-Sanad said in a statement. The number of people undergoing treatment currently stands at 16,139, with 172 of them in intensive care units, he added.

The head of the higher consultative committee for the coronavirus Dr Khaled Al-Jarallah said yesterday that new variants of coronavirus are stirring waves of the disease locally and in Gulf countries. He said vaccination and compliance with health precautions are the only measures to deal with the new variants.

Meanwhile, MP Hisham Al-Saleh yesterday asked Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah to clarify the circumstances surrounding the death of a Kuwaiti woman who died hours after receiving a dose of a COVID vaccine. The lawmaker said “the woman died on Friday amid reports of other deaths following the vaccination”. Saleh asked the minister about the number of deaths reported after vaccination, if any. He also asked the minister if the ministry has conducted an investigation after the death of the woman, identified as A.D.

According to the woman’s husband, she was in good health. Hours after getting vaccinated, she felt pain in the jaw and later in the neck. She died while being taken in an ambulance to Jaber Hospital, he said. Saleh also asked the minister why the ministry has not held a press conference to clarify the case.

The health ministry issued a statement yesterday saying the woman died at the intensive care unit of the hospital, but provided no details on the circumstances or causes of her death. The statement defended the medical staff and the attention they accorded to the woman, threatening to take action against social media posts that were highly critical of the staff.