KUWAIT: The ministry of health has launched a mobile application to monitor home-quarantined people as the country starts a massive operation to repatriate citizens stranded abroad due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The app called Shlonik (colloquial Kuwaiti for ‘how are you?’) will help the health ministry gauge quarantined people’s abidance of relevant rules, Dr Mona Al-Khabaz, head of the ministry’s team in charge of digital monitoring of home-quarantined people, told KUNA.

She clarified that all returnees had to install the app on their mobile phones and turn Bluetooth on. Shlonik will track their movements and notify the ministry if they break quarantine rules and leave home, Khabaz said. In this case, the ministry will immediately contact the concerned person and ask them to send a live photo to check their location, she said. She revealed that the ministry teams will also send messages daily at random times to the quarantined people, asking them to send a live selfies, which will be examined and matched with their previously sent photos.

The interactive app will also help doctors communicate with the quarantined people and follow up their health conditions and detect coronavirus symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, fever and breathing difficulties, Khabaz indicated. She noted that if a person has any of these symptoms, the ministry will swiftly send preventive health teams to make all medical checkups and transfer the person to a hospital if the necessity arises. She added the Shlonik app has other features, mainly the latest health updates, a health bot, a check-in for quarantined patients, vitals check and a communication link to MoH medical teams.

Khabaz emphasized that the health ministry has trained around 100 doctors to use Shlonik to follow up on quarantined people. She stated that violators of the quarantine rules will be brought to account and could be jailed for three months or pay a fine of up to KD 5,000 (over $15,000) or both. Khabaz also noted that the ministry will distribute barcoded bracelets to all returnees to make sure they do not leave their homes.

Ministry Spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad identified the conditions set by the ministry to allow any returnee to opt for home quarantine and not state quarantine facilities. The returnee’s health condition must be stable, and they should have a separate well-ventilated bedroom for quarantine, he said, adding that it is preferable that there is a separate toilet too. It is also necessary to identify specific individuals to serve the quarantined person at home, he stressed.

Sanad emphasized that the ministry of health is keen on implementing all preventive measures to maintain the safety of returnees and the whole society and to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. On Saturday, Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah affirmed that personnel of the department were prepared to receive Kuwaiti citizens repatriated from abroad.

He urged adherence to health measures and guidelines to ensure the safe return of citizens from abroad, warning that authorities will not be lenient with anyone who breaches health precautions during the operation. – KUNA