Tens and thousands of expat residents stranded abroad are expected to get relief soon as minister of health Dr Basel Al Sabah has promised to look into the proposal by local airlines to fly them direct into Kuwait.
The comprehensive proposal presented by the aviation sector in Kuwait, represented by Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways is moving towards implementation, which would mean the lifting of the ban on 34 countries from where flights were not permitted to enter Kuwait, Al Rai daily reported.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Basil Al-Sabah and the Ministry’s senior team met with representatives of the aviation sector, where the proposal and ways to implement it were discussed extensively particularly regarding requirements and procedures followed in a way that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Al-Rai reported, quoting informed sources.
The Arabic daily reported that the meeting ended with an agreement to hold intensive meetings between the various concerned authorities and the technical committees in the Ministry of Health to finalize the requirements, implement them efficiently with an aim to lift the ban on flights coming from the banned countries.
In accordance with the plan, the list of 34 banned countries will be canceled, and countries will be classified into two categories, the first low risk (A), and the second high risk (B) and includes the 34 countries according to the assessment of the health authorities in Kuwait.
The return of expatriates through direct flights will be limited to those who hold valid residency visas only, therefore the returnees will be employees who have jobs and a source of income and have a suitable residence to be isolated at home, according to sources.
Among the options will be home quarantine for all arrivals if the required conditions are met, but if the returnee does not prove that they have a suitable place for quarantine, they will be obligated to be institutionalized in a quarantine building and bear all the required costs until the end of the mandatory quarantine period.
The state will not bear any costs of the return of expats, who shall bear responsibility for all costs arising from his return trip, whether for tests or quarantine or anything else.
With regard to testing facilities upon the arrival of travelers, medical staff will be made available to take swabs from travelers arriving through each passenger terminal at Kuwait International Airport, and passenger data will be recorded inaddition to swab samples at all the three inspection centers for arriving passengers, in T1, T4 and T5.
The Building Operation Department is responsible for setting up contracts with approved centers and coordinating with airlines to ensure all necessary data is obtained. A joint or separate agreement can be entered into with any laboratory accredited by the Ministry of Health to conduct PCR tests.
Actions of arrivals from countries are as follows:
1 – Provide PCR certificate showing the negative status upon arrival at the Kuwait International Airport.
2 – Providing all passenger data required by MoH from airlines automatically to the system before arriving at the airport.
3 – After arrival, the arrivals’ data is verified in the Shlonik app.
4- Home quarantine for 7 days.
5- Submit for a second PCR test on the seventh day from the date of arrival. In the event that a “negative” result is announced, the quarantine is automatically canceled after 7 days of quarantine have passed by the accredited laboratory under the supervision of the Ministry of Health.
6- In the event the result is “positive”, the quarantine period will be extended and the Ministry of Health procedures will be applied.
7 – The airline will bear the cost of the second “PCR” test after 7 days, which will be collected from the passenger in advance.
Procedures for arrivals from “B” countries:
1- Presenting a “PCR” test certificate with a “negative” result upon arrival at Kuwait International Airport.
2 – Automatically providing the passenger data from the airline to the MoH system before his arrival at the airport.
3 – After arrival, the arrivals’ data is verified on the Shlonik system.
4- Taking a second PCR test on all passengers at the airport upon arrival.
5- Home quarantine for 7 days.
6 – Conducting a third PCR test on the seventh day from the date of arrival, and the home quarantine period ends when a “negative” result is announced. If there is a “positive” result, the quarantine period is extended and the Ministry of Health procedures are applicable.
7 – The airline will bear the cost of the second and third “PCR” tests on arrival, which is collected from the passenger in advance.
The decision of the Supreme Committee for the Restoration of Commercial Flights, Saad Al-Otaibi, said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation welcomes any step that reduces the burden on incoming travelers and strengthens air transport in Kuwait, provided that it is in compliance with the preventive requirements and health procedures.
Al-Otaibi revealed, in a statement to Al-Rai, that the Supreme Committee had previously submitted to the health authorities a recommendation on 12 August to arrange an institutional quarantine for all passengers coming from the banned countries inside Kuwait hotels for a period of 14 days, to maintain the health system in Kuwait and abide by the instructions of the Ministry of Health.