Kuwait bans entry of non-citizens for two weeks as it races to vaccinate population

India supplied Kuwait with the AstraZeneca vaccine last week

Kuwaitis arrive to get the COVID-19 vaccine at al-Masayel new vaccination centre in Kuwait City, on February 7, 2021.  / AFP / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT
Powered by automated translation

Kuwait's two-week entry ban for non-citizens took effect from Sunday after an increase in coronavirus cases.

Medical personnel in the government and private sectors and members of the diplomatic corps have been exempt from the ban.

Foreigners who are first-degree relatives of Kuwaitis, such as parents and children as well as their accompanying domestic workers, are also exempted.

The GCC state plans to vaccinate most of the population by September, subject to the availability of vaccines.

Health Minister Sheikh Bassel Al Sabah said the 850,000 Kuwait citizens who had applied to be vaccinated could be inoculated over the next three months if sufficient doses were available, given the current capacity of 300,000 vaccinations a month.

The vaccination rate would rise to 20,000 a day as more centres are opened, Sheikh Bassel told the state news agency Kuna.

The Defence Ministry opened a vaccination centre at the Jaber Al Ahmed Armed Forces Hospital on Sunday to inoculate its personnel as well as those under the Interior Ministry, the National Guard and the Kuwait Fire Force as well as their families, the army said.

Sheikh Bassel said Kuwait would have a total of 35 vaccination centres.

Kuwait has authorised the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the virus after a comprehensive evaluation of its safety, efficacy and quality, assistant undersecretary for drug and food control Abdullah Al Bader said.

Kuwait ordered the closure of gyms and salons last week and asked other commercial businesses to cease operating at 8pm, with the exception of pharmacies, supermarkets and other food retailers.

Kuwait is one of seven Arab countries to receive shipments of the vaccine from India, where it is being manufactured.

"We have so far supplied vaccines to the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco," a spokesman for India's foreign ministry said last week.

Kuwait reported 962 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 170,998. The country has 9,494 active cases, including 82 patients in intensive care, health ministry spokesman Abdellah Al Sanad told Kuna.