Coronavirus: Kuwait to start evacuating citizens stranded abroad

Two members of Red Crescent deliver meals for isolated people following the coronavirus disease outbreak at Khairan Resort, used as a quarantine centre, in Khairan, Kuwait, March 19, 2020. (Reuters)

Kuwait will launch the first phase of the plan to evacuate Kuwaiti citizens stranded abroad in coronavirus-hit countries on Wednesday March 25, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Nasser Nasser al-Sabah on Tuesday, according to state news agency KUNA.

The first stage of the evacuation process, which continues until Sunday March 29, will be followed by medium and long-term plans, according to the health situation in the country, the minister said at a press conference held in Al-Seef Palace on Tuesday evening.

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The announcement comes after the meeting of the “Return Committee” formed to follow up the plans concerned with the operations of returning Kuwaiti citizens to the homeland amid the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus.

The minister added that the first stage includes the countries where “the epidemic is spreading and health care is failing, in it in addition to the categories to which the following criteria applies: patients and their companions whose treatment period has ended and their conditions require special care, those with special needs, those over the age of 65 years and those under 18.”

The evacuation process will start in heavily hit countries such as Iran, Spain, Italy and Lebanon, then in countries where there are high concentrations of Kuwaiti citizens such as France, Egypt, US, UK, and then in GCC countries.

The minister also pointed out that all current and future plans are subject to review, evaluation and amendment successively and at any time based on the developments of the health situation in the country or what is happening abroad.

There are 191 coronavirus cases in Kuwait as of Tuesday, according to the ministry of health

Testing and preventative measures

Kuwait has administered a total of 17,316 coronavirus tests, according to the health ministry, and has taken several measures to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

The country enacted an 11-hour curfew on Saturday aimed at limiting public gatherings. The National Guard was ordered to assist the Ministry of Interior in enforcing the curfew. Work in government and private companies was also halted till March 26 but was then extended for another two weeks.

Anyone caught breaking the coronavirus curfew in Kuwait will be jailed for up to three years and fined 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($32,000) in line with new laws, the country’s deputy prime minister said on Sunday.

Kuwait extended the suspension of schools and universities till August 4. Earlier this month, flights to and from the country were suspended until further notice.

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Last Update: 18:17 KSA 21:17 - GMT 18:17
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