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GENEVA (Reuters) - Melons contaminated with deadly listeriosis bacteria were exported to at least nine countries from Australia, where an outbreak has killed seven people and caused one miscarriage, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

The rockmelons, or cantaloupes, were sent to Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and may also have gone to the Seychelles, a WHO statement said.

Between Jan. 17 and April 6, Australia reported 19 confirmed and one probable case of listeriosis, all of whom were hospitalized. Seven died.

The Listeria monocytogenes bacterium has a potentially long incubation period, usually one or two weeks but possibly up to 90 days, so more cases may be reported, the WHO said.

“Cases in the affected countries may still be identified,” it said.

 

The Australian melon producer, which the WHO did not name, recalled the fruit on Feb. 27.

On March 2 Australian authorities discovered the firm’s melons had been exported, and they sent detailed notifications through the International Food Safety Authorities Network to the countries concerned.

“It is believed that the cause of the outbreak was a combination of environmental conditions and weather contaminating the surface of the fruit, with low levels of the bacteria persisting after the washing process,” the WHO said.

 

“The grower continues to work closely with the relevant authorities and has returned to supply rockmelons (during the week starting 2 April) after testing cleared the property.”

Listeriosis can come in a mild form that causes diarrhoea and fever in healthy people within a few days.

But it also has a severe form that can cause septicemia and meningitis among more high-risk people, such as pregnant women, infants, old people, and people having treatment for cancer, AIDS or organ transplants.

The severe form has a 20-30 percent mortality rate.

As well as unwashed fruit, high risk foods include dairy products made of unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, deli meat products, ice creams, raw seafood, crustaceans and shellfish.

 

A separate listeriosis outbreak in South Africa killed at least 180 people earlier this year, sparking a class-action lawsuit against South African food producer Tiger Brands.

Reporting by Tom Miles, editing by David Evans

KUWAIT CITY, April 3 : According to a recent academic study, 53.8 percent of university students eat fast food four times or more during the week, despite the availability of homemade food in their houses.

The high level of fast food consumption in Kuwait is due to addiction to its taste and the encouraging environment in the country.

The study was conducted on a sample of 297 female and 124 male university students of ages ranging between 18 and 30 years. About 56.5 percent of them are of average weights while 43.5 percent of them are overweight or obese. These students prefer fast food, especially burgers and French fries.

The study stressed the need to launch food awareness programs to increase the level of knowledge about the health damages caused by fast food addiction.

KUWAIT CITY, April 4: Director of Human Resources Department in the Ministry of Education Saoud Al-Jowaiser has refuted rumors that spread among expatriate teachers about bargaining with those whose services were terminated to allow them to transfer to another sponsor in lieu of their end-of-service benefits, reports Al-Rai daily.

Al-Jowaiser stressed that the rumor is baseless as the ministry does not mind if these teachers transfer to other sponsors upon the termination of their contracts. He went on to say that the ministry continues to appoint expatriate teachers under the second contract with the same conditions, as the Civil Service Commission (CSC) did not issue an official directive about any amendment in this regard.

He affirmed the contracts for new teachers stipulates indemnity and there is no truth to the allegation that they will be appointed under special contracts stipulating wages based on the work done. On the other hand, an official in the educational sector has warned about the possible shortage of teachers in certain subjects at the beginning of academic year 2018/2019, particularly in schools located in remote areas as Kuwaiti teachers will most likely reject such posts.

Source: Arab Times

Levy may dampen investment interest – Bill seen to risk international reputation

KUWAIT CITY, April 4: The government is determined in its stance to reject the parliamentary bill to levy the remittances of expatriates even though it was approved by the Parliament’s Finance Committee last Sunday.

According to sources, the government expressed concern over the impacts of such a move on the goal to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub.

There is a need to study the matter from all angles related to application and procedures, and the changes it will bring about.

The stance of the government, particularly of Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Kuwait, is based on seven factors. They are:-

■ Taxes weaken the financial stability of the state

■ The law poses risks to Kuwait’s international reputation

■ It weakens the ability of Kuwait to combat money laundering

■ Controlling the emergence and growth of black market in the banking sector will be difficult

■ Controlling the movement of remittances from the banking sector will be difficult

■ It will directly impact the operations aimed at attracting foreign investments

■ The mechanism for applying taxes and the relevant work processes in the banks to carry out the deduction process during the remittances are not clear

The sources explained that the government of Kuwait is keen about working on transforming Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub through the launch of major developmental projects with the aim of attracting foreign investors and improving the status of Kuwait.

However, the adoption of the bill to levy the remittances of expatriates could negatively affect the fulfillment of this goal.

Decline in remittances 
The remittances of expatriates in 2017 reached a total of KD 4.1 billion. However, compared to the remittances worth KD 4.56 billion sent in 2016, 2017 registered a decline of ten percent.

In 2014, the remittances sent were a total of KD 5.1 billion, which was the highest in seven years, in line with a record increase in the oil prices.

The remittances of expatriates from Kuwait equal nearly ten percent of the local revenues and exceed one-third of the total revenues of Kuwait.

In the last two years, the remittances of expatriates in Kuwait recorded a huge fluctuation. During the third quarter of last year, the remittances had reduced by 8.1 percent, reaching KD 940 million. This was the first time since 2012 that the remittances are less than one billion.

Money laundering and black market
In the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index of 2017, Kuwait came third among the Gulf countries and fourth among the MENA countries in terms of fighting money laundering and financial terrorism.

Qatar came first and the United Arab Emirates was last in the Gulf level. In the index issued recently, Kuwait recorded 5.53 points to occupy 90th rank in the international level.

Experts highlighted the negative impacts of applying the parliamentary bill on the banking sector, as it may lead to the emergence of a black market for expatriates to remit their earnings through “shadow companies”, which the supervisory bodies are trying to eliminate.

International warnings 
International financial institutions are warning against imposing taxes on the remittances of expatriates. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stressed in its report that levying the remittances of expatriates will have negative impacts on the private sector, and will increase the cost of production.

However, if the move is accompanied with increase in salaries, it will reduce the competitive ability of the private sector. IMF said the move will also lead to absence of supervision and emergence of black market.

Levying the remittances of expatriates will eventually prove to be ineffective and difficult to manage because it will lead to transfer of remittances from the banking system and encourage lack of financial intervention.

KUWAIT CITY, March 28: Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs Major General Fahad Al-Shuwei, during the ceremony, highlighted the controversies related to major traffic violations which result in deportation of an expatriate violator.

He assured expatriates by saying, “There will be no deportation except for two cases, which are driving without license and carrying passengers as taxi without necessary license”.

Major General Al-Shuwei revealed that some motorists who receive driving licenses are unaware of the traffic culture, affirming that the ministry will facilitate its capabilities to spread traffic culture and awareness.

In response to a press question concerning news which is being circulated about issuance of 330,000 driving licenses to Egyptian expatriates, Major General Al-Shuwei clarified that the correct number is 196,000, and not 330,000, indicating that all these licenses were issued before 2016.

 

By Suzanne Nasser / Jaber al-Humoud Al-Seyassah Staff and Agencies

Source: Arab Times

KUWAIT CITY, March 18: Police are looking for a Kuwaiti for torturing his Indian domestic worker, reports Al-Rai daily. It has been reported the victim is not under the sponsorship of the Kuwaiti.

It has also been reported the sister of the suspect felt pity for the Indian, came to her rescue and took her to the Adan Hospital.

The victim has deep cut on the head and bruises on the hands and arms. The victim then contacted her brother who is working in Kuwait and the latter filed a complaint with the police. He has also submitted a medical report from the hospital. The source said the Kuwaiti is expected to be referred to the Public Prosecution after interrogation

 

KUWAIT CITY, March 18: “All projects concerned with developmental plans are important and supportive to the economy, but priority should be for the improvement of the legislative environment that serves to attract investors for investing in local projects”, reports Al-Shahed daily quoting Dr Jassim Al-Fahad.

Dr Al-Fahad is a member of the former Higher Committee for Mega Projects affiliated to Council of Ministers, Head of the Kuwaiti Consultants Club and Professor of Economics. During an interview with Al-Shahed daily, he said, “We should work on the vision of His Highness the Amir to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub by bolstering local investment process by directing our sovereign investments to invest in the new economic cities”. Dr Al-Fahad went on to say, “We should not negatively view privatization at the local level”. He affirmed that privatization experiments have been successful in major countries such as the United States of America, many European countries, China and others, adding that Kuwait should emulate those countries’ experiences in privatization.

Dr Al-Fahad stressed the need to be cautious about privatizing all sectors, indicating that the institutions responsible for privatization should establish the foundations of quality, competitiveness and excellence in this regard.

No more expats in senior posts
Chairperson of the parliamentary Replacement and Employment Committee MP Khalil Al-Saleh has announced that last week’s meeting marks the beginning of the implementation of the replacement policy, reports Al-Rai daily.

Al-Saleh disclosed the plan laid down by the committee entails total replacement of expatriates in government bodies with Kuwaitis by 2023, reduce the number of expatriates employed in the private sector and retain those needed by the country. He said the “employment of expatriates in administration posts is no longer acceptable.”

He told the daily, “The committee has started implementing the plan. We will not stop until we see Kuwaitis occupying the employment market. He called on all concerned bodies to organize employment files and prepare plans to address loopholes which contributed to the rising unemployment rate among Kuwaitis.” He also urged the concerned ministries, such as the Ministry of Higher Education, to set up a mechanism for overcoming challenges that prevent Kuwaitis from being employed like the academic output which does not suit the labor market. He emphasized the need to provide training for graduates to fulfill the requirements of the labor market.

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