October 11, 2021 healthcare

MoH launches vaccination campaign across Kuwait

KUWAIT: The ministry of health announced yesterday the launch of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign across several areas of Kuwait from today. In a press release, the ministry noted that the campaign will commence in Bneid Al-Gar, with plans to cover several areas to provide the service to all age categories. The campaign aims to boost vaccination rates and cover all workers who were not able to get the vaccine for any reason, it noted. The ministry of health has launched several vaccination campaigns to reach all segments of the community.

Health authorities in the country have said more than 70 percent of the population has taken two doses of approved vaccines, thus achieving what is known as “herd immunity”. The ministry has opened registrations for a third booster dose, with priority for the elderly, high-risk patients and medical staff. Authorities are also waiting for authorization to start vaccinating children aged 5 to 12.

In other coronavirus-related news, elated Sydneysiders were emerging from almost four months of “blood, sweat and no beers” early today as a long coronavirus lockdown was lifted in Australia’s largest city. Sydney’s more than five million residents have been subjected to a 106-day lockdown, designed to limit the march of the highly transmissible Delta variant. With new infections now falling – New South Wales state recorded 477 cases yesterday – and more than 70 percent of over-16s double vaccinated, Sydney was dusting off the cobwebs.

A handful of venues – including some bars and slot machine rooms – planned to open at 12:01 am local time to vaccinated customers. “Be the first to have a cold schooner, and be the first to catch up with friends,” said owners of Easts in the city’s famed Bondi neighborhood. Hairdressers will be among those businesses throwing open their doors later in the day, although many have been booked out for weeks to come by shaggy-haired customers.

Since June, shops, schools, salons and offices have been closed for non-essential workers and there have been unprecedented restrictions on personal freedom. There were bans on everything from travelling more than five kilometers from home, visiting family, playing squash, browsing in supermarkets to attending funerals.

“Very few countries have taken as stringent or extreme an approach to managing Covid as Australia,” Tim Soutphommasane, an academic and former Australian race discrimination commissioner, told AFP. There will still be limits on mass gatherings and international borders and schools will not fully reopen for a few weeks yet. But otherwise daily life will look more like normal.

For most of the pandemic, Australia successfully suppressed infections through border closures, lockdowns and aggressive testing and tracing. But the Delta variant put paid to any dream of “COVID-zero”, at least in the largest cities of Melbourne and Sydney which are now pivoting to “living with COVID”. “It’s a big day for our state,” said New South Wales’ recently appointed conservative premier Dominic Perrottet. After “100 days of blood, sweat and no beers,” he said, “you’ve earned it.”

But despite the celebratory mood, there are lingering concerns about what reopening will bring. Perrottet encouraged patrons to treat staff with kindness, with fears that bans on the unvaccinated could lead to protests and confrontation. There are also fears that reopening will inevitably bring a rash of new infections. The Australian Medical Association this week pilloried Perrottet when he appeared to shift the focus away from health and onto the economic recovery.

“The AMA supports gradual opening up of the economy and the loosening of restrictions, but it is critical to observe the impact of each step on transmission and case numbers,” the doctors’ body said. “Otherwise New South Wales may still see hospitals become completely overwhelmed despite high vaccination rates.”

Meanwhile, Malaysia eased domestic and international travel curbs yesterday for those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as a fierce outbreak slows and inoculation rates rise. The Southeast Asian nation had faced its worst COVID-19 wave in recent months, prompting authorities to impose a tough nationwide lockdown. But with case numbers falling and the inoculation rollout picking up speed, authorities began lifting curbs, with businesses allowed to reopen and workers slowly returning to offices.

In a televised address yesterday, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced fully inoculated people can move freely within the country, as well as fly overseas without special permission. “According to the ministry of health, the vaccination rate for the adult population… has reached 90 per cent,” he said to explain the move that took effect today. But Ismail Sabri warned people to continue abiding by rules such as mask-wearing to keep the virus in check. “Do not be complacent… This is important in the government’s efforts to reopen the economy,” he said.

Malaysians had been prohibited from travelling between the country’s different states since January, apart from in exceptional circumstances. Overseas travel had only been allowed for those who got special permission by applying through an official system. While this requirement is being dropped, returning travelers will still need to undergo quarantine.

Malaysia largely avoided a first wave of the virus at the start of the pandemic last year after imposing restrictions and closing its borders. It was hit hard this year by the Delta variant, and was logging over 20,000 cases a day and hundreds of deaths in August. But after one of Southeast Asia’s fastest vaccine rollouts, infection rates have slowed. The country of 32 million has recorded over 2.3 million cases and 27,000 deaths.


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