Ministry Proposes Complete Lockdown as COVID-19 Arrives in Kabul

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Monday, March 23, 2020
Kabul (BNA) Health authorities in Afghanistan on Sunday reported 16 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including two in the capital Kabul for the first time, taking the total to 40.
Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz told a press conference that the 16 new cases nationwide – out of 97 tests – include two foreign diplomats based in Kabul but declined to give more details.
Minister Feroz demanded the government declare a complete lockdown in the frontline state of Herat bordering Iran, which has emerged as the epicenter behind the spread of virus in Afghanistan, with thousands of deportees entering on a daily basis.
"People must cooperate. We urge them not to gather but then we see people together for picnics and so on, it becomes a massive problem,” he said, lamenting the social distancing being not followed.
Owing to a lack of awareness and limited testing for the virus in the country's fragile healthcare system, the number of positive COVID-19 cases is feared to be higher.
On Saturday, health authorities began door-to-door surveillance for suspected coronavirus cases in Herat. Dr. Ahmad Amirnejad, head of the national outreach and surveillance department in the western part of the country, told Anadolu Agency that only 213 people have been tested so far after a month of coronavirus outbreaks in the province.
He said this figure is very small. "Since the outbreak of the virus in Herat last month, only 213 suspects, including 40 women, have been tested in the province. Of these, 15 were positive and 185 negatives. The outcome of 13 other suspicious cases will be identified later," he said.
The Minister again requested the citizens to take the coronavirus threat seriously and to comply with the Ministry of Public Health's messages and instructions.
The Minister said that special attention has also been paid to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus in prisons and medical facilities have been provided to all the prisoners.
The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 170 countries and regions around the globe, while the tally of confirmed cases has topped 308,000 and the death toll is over 13,000, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, a vast majority of people contracting the virus suffer mild symptoms before making a recovery.
The Italian government reported 793 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, a new one-day record that takes the country's death toll to 4,825 -- more than a third of the world's total. The announcement comes as nearly one billion are confined to their homes worldwide.

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