Gaza virus cases attended conference in Pakistan

Palestinian volunteers wearing protective clothes and masks disinfect a street as a preventive measure against the spread of novel coronavirus, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 22, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 March 2020

Gaza virus cases attended conference in Pakistan

  • The Palestinian embassy in Islamabad said the two attended an event with 250,000 Muslims in Pakistan last month

GAZA: Gaza’s first two confirmed coronavirus patients attended a conference with 250,000 Muslims in Pakistan last month that went ahead contrary to government advice, an official and family members said Monday.
Pakistani authorities had urged the cancelation of the five-day Tablighi Ijtema congregation, or Tablighi Jamaat in Arabic, hosted annually near Lahore.
But organizers from the conservative Sunni Muslim evangelical movement ignored government advice to postpone.
It was unclear where the two Palestinians — who returned to Gaza from Pakistan via Egypt earlier this month — contracted COVID-19.
But a statement from the Palestinian embassy in Islamabad said the two attended the event which took place “despite the warning of the Pakistani authorities against conferences.”
Omar Al-Tabatibi said his 79-year-old grandfather Mohammed and friend Amer Doghmosh had attended the Lahore event.
Previous statements from health officials had misidentified the men as being between 30 and 40.

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“My grandfather learnt about the conference by chance from a friend while he was in Pakistan so he wanted to attend,” Tabatibi said.
After returning from Pakistan his grandfather stayed several days in Egypt before taking the long journey overland to Gaza, Tabatibi said.
“Maybe my grandfather caught corona in Egypt and not Pakistan, no one knows,” he added.
He said the family had already been subjected to abuse on social media and in person since the news broke.
“My little brother went to a games shop today and the owner told him to go home as his grandfather has corona.”
Gaza’s health ministry said the two men were placed in quarantine immediately after crossing into Gaza and did not mix with the population.
It described them as being in stable condition.
Omar said his grandfather has pre-existing conditions of high blood pressure and diabetes.
“I spoke to him last night on the phone and he told me he was ok and is recovering,” he said.
The United Nations has warned that a COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza could be disastrous, given the high poverty rates and weak health system in the coastal strip under Israeli blockade since 2007.


Kuwait expects nearly 1.5 million expats to leave by end of year

Updated 11 July 2020

Kuwait expects nearly 1.5 million expats to leave by end of year

  • Over 158,000 expat workers have already left the country
  • The Egyptian and Indian expats communities were hit the hardest

DUBAI: Almost 1.5 million expatriate workers are expected to leave Kuwait by year’s end as economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic forced companies to cut their workforce to save on costs and remain afloat.
Likewise, the government’s decision to lower the number of expats living in the country, through a new residency law, and its continuing Kuwaitization of jobs in the public sector also hit migrant workers.
Over 158,000 expat workers have already left the country only in a span of 116 days, or from March 16 until July 9, many of whom have been laid off because of the coronavirus crisis, local newspaper Arab Times reported.
The Egyptian and Indian expats communities were hit the hardest, the report said.
The draft of Kuwait’s new residency law would limit the number of foreign nationals recruited by companies each year and will include regulations based on their skills, Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh was earlier reported as saying.
The Kuwait parliament aims to have the legislation ready by October, prior to the November elections.