Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: MP Hisham Al-Saleh yesterday filed to grill Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah over alleged failure to handle the coronavirus crisis despite a resounding success by the minister that cut the number of new cases to only a handful. Saleh, a pro-government lawmaker, made the surprising move as the government and opposition MPs are locked in a high-profile national dialogue to hammer out political disputes that have paralyzed the country since last December’s polls.

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received the grilling, which will be listed on the agenda of the first session later this month when the new term starts. In his grilling, MP Saleh claimed that the minister endangered the country’s health security by allowing the entry of scores of residents during the coronavirus pandemic. He also accused the minister of being responsible for the high cost of PCR tests and ordering the unnecessary closure of private health facilities.

Saleh also accused the minister of not being transparent, claiming the ministry has announced the death of only 934 people due to the coronavirus, although the health ministry has officially announced as many as 2,455 people have died of COVID-19.

The number of new coronavirus cases reported by the ministry has dropped to below 100 for well over a month, with the number of cases mostly under 50 for the past two weeks, indicating to a substantial success by health authorities to bring the pandemic well under control, which resulted in reopening most activities in the country.

The health ministry reported yesterday that only nine patients are being treated at intensive care units and just 28 are admitted in hospitals. The government has praised the efforts of the health minister and the entire medical staff over their performance in containing the pandemic and vaccinating over 80 percent of the population.

In the previous term, a number of opposition MPs filed to grill the health minister, mostly on allegations he failed to manage the coronavirus pandemic, but the grillings were not debated due to political disputes and because the Assembly only held a few sessions.