MP against return of expats from virus-hit countries

MP Saleh Ashour

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: MP Saleh Ashour yesterday criticized a decision by the government to allow people from coronavirus-infected and banned countries to enter Kuwait if they stayed in a third country for 14 days. The lawmaker charged that the decision is yet another proof that the government has failed to manage the coronavirus crisis and that it has been making random decisions before carefully studying their impacts.

After reopening Kuwait International Airport to commercial flights, the civil aviation authority barred passengers from 31 countries after criticism by MPs and online activists. Later, the civil aviation authority said passengers from the barred countries can still return to Kuwait provided they stay for at least 14 days in an allowed country and produce a negative coronavirus test that was taken within the past 72 hours, changing the requirement from 96 hours.

Ashour warned that such decisions will allow hundreds of thousands of expats to return to the country, raising the risk of spreading the virus in Kuwait. Major nations among the barred countries are India, Egypt and the Philippines, which have the largest expat communities in Kuwait, estimated at close to two million. Other barred countries include Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Cabinet is expected to decide whether to keep the current six-hour night curfew or lift the curfew altogether after a large drop in new coronavirus cases in the past few days. The decision of the Cabinet will depend on recommendations by a ministerial committee headed by Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh, and which also includes the health minister.