By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly passed amendments to a law stipulating tough penalties for violators in times of health epidemics.
The amendments stipulate that people who are infected with a contagious disease like the coronavirus and transmit it deliberately to others face a jail term of at least 10 years and a fine of not more than KD 30,000.
The amendments also stipulate that those who violate government orders face a jail term not exceeding six months and a fine of not more than KD 10,000 or one of them.
The Assembly’s health committee had initially proposed the death penalty or life in jail for such people if they cause the death of others, but MP Saadoun Hammad said the panel met again and reduced the penalty, scrapping the death sentence and life term.
In its first emergency session since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Assembly also approved amendments to the courts law regarding the duration of filing cases and petitions in light of the ongoing closure of government offices and the courts. The amendment essentially does not count the current period as part of the legal duration.
Lawmakers warmly welcomed the prime minister and the ministers as they entered the chamber in appreciation of the government’s efforts in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah thanked MPs and warned that the country and the world are facing a crisis that no one knows when it will end.
During the debate, a number of lawmakers urged the government to speed up plans to repatriate tens of thousands of Kuwaitis stranded overseas as the government is preparing quarantines sufficient to house them for at least two weeks.
MP Khalil Al-Saleh said authorities should not repeat the mistake of allowing thousands of expatriates to enter as happened earlier this month, and that priority of return should be given to Kuwaitis.
MP Nayef Al-Merdas urged expat teachers to leave for their home countries after extending school holidays until August.
The Assembly also assigned the financial and budget committees to prepare a monthly report on the impact of the coronavirus on the national economy.
In the meantime, the health ministry announced only two new coronavirus cases, raising the total to 191 cases, while nine cases have recovered. Only three new cases have been reported in the past two days.