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Coronavirus Cases Soar in Afghanistan Amid Worsening Outbreak in Iran

Afghanistan had confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus pneumonia on Monday as numbers spike in Iran

AT News

KABUL: Afghan authorities have announced sweeping precautionary measures in the country’s west as they scramble to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Confirmed cases surged from one on Monday to more than 10 suspected cases by Tuesday as new outbreaks continued to expand in Iran, raising fears of its spreading to Afghanistan. In Iran, the virus has killed 12 people with more than 61 cases.

Afghanistan closed its border with Iran on Monday with thousands stranded behind the border, but allowed entries on Tuesday. Cross-border trade has been temporarily halted to contain the outbreak.

Public Health Minister, Ferozuddin Feroz, said Tuesday that seven suspected cases of coronavirus were reported in the western province of Herat, bordering Iran. On Sunday, three suspected cases were reported in Herat. But on Monday, minister Feroz confirmed the first reported case in Herat, the first ever in Afghanistan. “Two of the cases were negative but one was positive,” said Feroz.

Three coronavirus infections were reported on Tuesday in the north-western province of Ghor and in the western province of Farah. Two men suspected to have contracted coronavirus have been quarantined at a health facility in Farah, a local health official said. Abdul Jabar Shayiq said the infected men had newly repatriated from Iran. “They had some symptoms of the coronavirus disease,” he said. Blood sample of one of the suspected cases has been sent to Kabul for diagnosis.

Another case was reported in Ghor where a 35-year-old man who recently arrived in Ghor from Iran was suspected of novel coronavirus infection, according to Juma Gul Yaqubi, head of Ghor Public Health Directorate.

This comes as the European Union announced on Tuesday the allocation of €114 million to the World Health Organization for global response to coronavirus in countries with fragile health systems, including Afghanistan will also benefit. Part of this fund will be allocated immediately to different sectors, while the rest will be released in the coming months, according to EU.

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