NAJLA ALWAQAYAN WRITES – From localized disease to global pandemic, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has revealed how some governments are capable of protecting their citizens—and how some are not. China took this pandemic very seriously during its early stages and has, as a result, successfully contained it. On the other hand, Europe and the United States have become the new epicenters of COVID-19, experiencing high numbers of cases and large death tolls. What stuns me most is that Europe and the United States are pioneers in the medical industry. However, when it comes to COVID-19, they have mostly failed to protect their people.
Witnessing how many governments have declared state emergencies and closed their borders left me anxious about how Kuwait, my home country, would handle this pandemic. Kuwait has long relied on foreign expertise, so much so that the country sends its citizens to seek medical care abroad. As such, I wondered how Kuwait would react once the virus spread to its people.
While leaders around the world were still deciding how to handle the pandemic, Kuwait took decisive action, closing schools and airports, imposing curfews, and mandating COVID-19 tests for all its people. Additionally, the government granted two weeks’ time off for government and private-sector workers and imposed medical quarantine for anyone diagnosed with the virus. To avoid further contagion, citizens and non-citizens who arrived from overseas were also quarantined in hotels until they did not show any signs of the disease.
What about citizens who were not able to head home before the airport closures? Kuwait took care of them, too. Students, for example, were provided food supplies while tourists were offered free hotel stays until friendly ‘eviction’ planes arrived to repatriate them.
When world leaders left their nations feeling afraid and uncertain, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, offered positivity, assurance, and guidance. In a recent speech, for example, he stated that his top priority was to contain the epidemic and save lives. In addition, he emphasized that efforts to fight the virus would not end until it was fully contained. Along with the Emir of Kuwait, the Ministry of Social Affairs launched a campaign to raise donations to fight the virus in Kuwait and to fund charities to help those in need.
During those difficult times, Kuwait stands in solidarity with the rest of the world. Ever since the pandemic began, Kuwait has looked to help countries and organizations everywhere. So far, Kuwait has donated $40 million to the World Health Organization, $10 million to Iran, and medical equipment to Yemen.
Although COVID-19 has led to a radical shift in how people carry on with their lives, personally I have never been prouder to be Kuwaiti.
LMU undergraduate Nalja Alwaqayan is enrolled in the ‘Asia Media Practicum’ course that helps shape asiamedia.lmu.edu every semester.