The Aftermath of Covid-19, Travel Ban And New Policies in Kuwait

Writer: Kenzy Hatem

Editor: Ahmed Ashry

Designer: Malak Raslan

This month remarks almost 18 months since the very first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Thailand as the first case outside of China. Since then, life has been turning upside down as the world started experiencing the start of a pandemic that we are still dealing with to this day. Needless to say, it was very stressful to witness the huge impact it had worldwide as the world panics in terror from the unknown virus that infected many people all over the world; it is a nightmare indeed. But, the fallout is no longer invisible. Indeed, the effects of Covid-19 are being felt long after the world began to recover.

It takes a lot of time and effort for patients to recover or even show any signs of healing, and although some patients do not require hospitalization, they still show some symptoms for several weeks after illness. Most survivors take weeks or even months to recover completely from the physical effects the virus causes, especially people who suffer from chronic illnesses. That is not to mention the mental impact.

Mental health experts noticed a huge rise in mental health issues; however, it is not only patients who feel the mental health impact of the pandemic, but also the general population. Mind Beacon, an E-therapy company, has reportedly seen a 50% increase in new clients from June to July of 2020 alone. People are having very different concerns regarding this issue, and those range from ones about their own health, those of a family member or a loved one, canceled plans, financial stress, or isolation.

Therapists and psychologists have expressed their huge concerns especially for those who had mental health problems prior to the pandemic and essential workers who’ve been at risk on the front line. Departing families and affected multiple, different generations could be pretty traumatic, but with 179 million cases worldwide and 3.88 million death cases (to date), it is expected for everyone to feel overwhelmed.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries and regions have imposed quarantines, travel bans, and other restrictions to prevent citizens or residents from entering the most affected areas. Some regions and countries believed it was best to impose a general global restriction that prevents citizens from travelling or coming back after travel. These restrictions have reduced the spread of the virus. However, because they were implemented only after the virus’s spread was already established in many places, it was only a modest reduction in the total number of people infected. But of course, they came at a price. Travel restrictions caused a noticeable economic decline in the tourism industry. However, traveling still continues to decrease as lower cost alternatives, such as tele-conferencing and virtual events, are still preferred. About 50 countries currently have a ban that suits their current situation, perhaps one of the most controversial ones are the ones recently enforced in Kuwait.

On the 13th of March 2020, Kuwait closed its borders to all nonresidents. Since then, people have been calling for equality and demanding that the government treats nonresidents who live in Kuwait as normal humans with families and rights. Many people decided to share their heartbreaking stories that happened due to the travel restrictions they have, and let me just say that they are worth being heard.

I’m an expat who has been hugely negatively affected by the travel ban. I go to university here, so I can’t risk being banned from Kuwait. But I haven’t been able to go see my family back home for many years. I have multiple friends who share this situation.

Kuwait Times

This story was reported by Kuwait Times in an article about a university student who is now trapped between the two decisions: going back to see his family or continuing his studies.

When I got to know both my parents had Covid, all I did was watch them on my phone. I couldn’t travel to be with them and provide support. I watched as my mom recovered, and continued to watch as my dad’s condition deteriorated. I watched how he was strapped to the ventilator and cuffed to the bed. I watched as his heart stopped. I watched my mom grieve for her loving husband and companion for 43 years. I watched as he was taken to a stretcher to be cremated. I watched as my poor mom was alone. I just watched. 12 months later, I am left with the option of continuing to do the same. I can’t travel to wrap my arms around my grieving mother. I couldn’t hold her and care for her in her loneliness. I pray no one should go through this alone. If only I could travel to see her or bring her here, I would forever be grateful for a right I have but cannot exercise

I delivered my baby in the US and I am not able to return since then. The only option I had was to leave him and return alone, as there were no visas upon arrival at that time. I took the decision not to leave my newborn. His dad hasn’t even met him yet, and my other 6-year-old son is extremely depressed. He wants to go back home to see his dad and friends. I wish this black cloud will vanish soon!

 Another heartbreaking story told by a Kuwaiti woman. She expressed her wishes for this hard time to be lift off of the world, explaining the situation she’s in. We also hope those hard times end soon and would like to thank the brave people who decided to share their stories!

These are just the few individuals’ experiences we could include. There are many more that are not just in Kuwait, but in the whole world. Our prayers go to everyone who was harmed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a hard time for us all, but we should always remember that there is strength in unity. We will get through this together if we stick together.