Kuwait residents mask
People step out for a few hours after authorities announce relaxation in lock down in this file image Image Credit: AFP

Today marks one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Kuwait. On February 24, 2020 like many other people, I thought that within a matter of weeks the whole thing would have blown over and life would be gone back to normal.

Today, I look back and think: oh I would love to be naive again.

The fact that 365 days passed since the first positive case was reported in Kuwait serves as a reminder that although the pandemic is not over we endured changes on various levels.

Loved ones were lost. Homes were left behind. Jobs and colleagues were no longer around.

While the virus may have put our lives on halt, it also changed the way we view life and allowed us to reflect and re-establish our priorities. I can’t speak for most but on a personal level, the past year has served as a reminder that we are part of a community and that our actions, whether small or large, have an effect on the people around us.

Given that the virus is transmitted from one person to another, as a community we had to learn how to stay connected while also staying safe. Since the start of the pandemic, many families were, or still remain, apart due to lockdown and travel restrictions. Although physically apart, distance became a mere concept as the internet and social media transcends borders and allowed us to keep up with each other from the comfort of our homes.

But also, this notion of staying home and staying safe became a privilege as many frontline and health workers continued to work selflessly. Thank you to everybody that has risked their lives to protect ours.

This milestone in our lives does not mean that the pandemic is over, rather it is a reflection into the past year and a way of remembering that although the past year was tough we managed to get by through it and we will continue to do so.

Déjà vu

As Kuwait is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks and the government is enforcing new health measures to curb the virus, I cannot help but feel a sense of déjà vu.

Yet we should remind ourselves that this time around it is different. A year ago the world was trying to play catch up with the virus as it was something new and unknown. But today, over a year after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China, we know more thanks to modern science and medicine. Therefore, while yes there is still so much we don’t know about the virus, especially the new mutant strains, we should not be making the same mistakes we did a year ago.

As businesses are shutting down again and travel has been severely reduced, it feels like we are going back to square one.

A year ago most did not question the government’s COVID-19 response since it was a new phenomenon to all, but now many are wondering are these decisions calculated and data driven? How long will they last? How long before businesses will be forced to shut down for good and let go of their employees?

While there is a growing sense of uncertainty, we have to remember that amid the chaos we adapted in such a short period of time. That in itself is a success, in my eyes.

Looking back, the past year was full of new surprises, first time events and milestones.

Here are just a few in Kuwait’s case:

February 24, 2020

Kuwait detects first case of COVID-19

March 22, 2020

Government announces first partial curfew

April 4, 2020

First death reported in Kuwait

May 10, 2020

The government imposed a 20-day nationwide lockdown. Everybody was expected to stay indoors, except from 4:00pm-6:00pm where citizens and residents were permitted to walk/exercise outdoors within their neighbourhood.

May 30, 2020

Full lockdown is removed and Kuwait enters phase of five-stage plan to return to normality

August 1, 2020

The airport resumes commercial flights after a five-month halt.

August 30, 2020

Curfew is lifted. Kuwait was recorded as the country that underwent the longest consecutive curfew lasting a total 161 days.

September 22, 2020

Kuwait’s overall confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000.

December 21, 2020

Kuwait closed its airport, including its land and sea borders, over growing concern of the new COVID strain that was emerging in the United Kingdom and Europe.

December 24, 2020

After the arrival of the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Kuwait launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

January 2, 2021

Kuwait reopens the airport, land and sea borders are two weeks of closure.

February 1, 2021

First batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Kuwait, containing 200,000 doses.

February 7, 2021

New measures are put into place to curb the spread of the virus, including but not limited to banning non-Kuwaitis from entering Kuwait and closing gyms and saloons

February 14, 2021

Kuwait records more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19.

February 16, 2021

The Minister of Health, Dr. Basel Al Sabah, announced that 454,000 people have preregistered to receive the vaccine. Of those, 137,000 of them received the vaccine.

As we all try to navigate the new way of life, we still wonder when will the pandemic be over? How many more life altering events will we have to grapple with? And will over lives ever go back to pre COVID-19 times?