KUWAIT: People queue as they wait to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination center at the international fairgrounds in Mishref yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: A number of lawmakers yesterday called on the government to “immediately” end the partial lockdown that was imposed two weeks ago to curb a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, saying it has hurt the society and the economy. Opposition MP Hasan Jowhar said the partial lockdown has failed to deal with the crisis as it has not helped bring down the number of new cases, as he cast doubt on the “accuracy” of official figures released by the ministry.

The lawmaker said the health minister and the ministry have made “blunders” while dealing with the health crisis, and wondered why the number of coronavirus cases has been dropping worldwide except in Kuwait, where it continues to rise. He also asked how is it logical that the number of cases among Kuwaitis is twice the number of cases among expats, although Kuwaitis make up just 30 percent of the population.

Jowhar said the partial 12-hour lockdown has forced people to carry out their essential needs like shopping in a highly shortened period, which has caused harm to the people and the economy. He said this and other issues will be included in a grilling that Jowhar and another MP plan to file against the health minister.

Another opposition MP Ahmad Al-Azemi yesterday reiterated that he will file to grill the health minister over the alleged mishandling of the coronavirus issue and other subjects. MP Khalil Al-Saleh called on the ministry to stop sending people who have taken two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to so-called institutional quarantine. He also demanded that the government must pay the cost of the hotel quarantine for citizens, otherwise it should send them home.

The health ministry yesterday reported 1,192 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking total cases to 219,125, while 11 deaths were recorded, taking the death toll to 1,226. Ministry Spokesperson Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad said the number of people receiving treatment in intensive care units has reached 232, with 14,360 others undergoing treatment. Sanad said the number of swabs performed in the past 24 hours reached 7,072, taking total tests to 1,967,210. Earlier, the ministry announced 1,331 cases had recovered in the past 24 hours, taking total recoveries to 203,539.

Meanwhile, Islamist MP Saleh Al-Mutairi yesterday submitted a draft law to amend article 79 of the constitution to make all future legislation in line with Islamic sharia. He called on MPs and Kuwaiti voters to help him in passing the amendment that will require that any law in the future must comply with sharia.

Islamist MPs have tried repeatedly in the past to amend the constitution to make all laws Islamic, but failed. Constitutional amendments in Kuwait are extremely difficult to pass because they require the approval of two-thirds of the Assembly and HH the Amir. The leftist Kuwait Progressive Movement immediately criticized the move, saying this will transfer Kuwait from a civil state into a religious state.

Five opposition lawmakers yesterday submitted a draft law to amend the election law in such a way to exactly define crimes that deprive people from voting and contesting elections. In their bill, the lawmakers said any conviction should stipulate at least three years in jail for crimes such as issuing a dud check, cheating, rape, abduction and bribery among others. Currently, such crimes are not defined as those which result in barring people from voting or running for public office, unlike political offenses.