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Health officials confirm 1st coronavirus case in Afghanistan

Public Health Minister declares emergency situation in Herat—a source of coronavirus flare-up; US forces in Afghanistan monitoring coronavirus after first infection confirmed

By Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: The Ministry of Public Health has declared emergency situation in western Herat province after first case of infection of coronavirus in the province—and moreover, the U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan is closely monitoring the potential spread of coronavirus, after confirmation of the first case on Monday.

A man from the western city of Herat who recently traveled to Qum city of Iran—a city in which so far eight people were died of coronavirus—has tested positive for the virus and has been quarantined, top health official said.

Coronavirus first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since then killed more than 2500 people in that country alone, while cases have been reported in several countries across the world.

In a press briefing, Minister of Public Health, Ferozudin Feroz said “three suspected cases of coronavirus reported in Herat and today I declare the first case of coronavirus in the province.” He said that two other cases were negative, and they freed from quarantine.

The three suspects were returned from Qum city of Iran recently to the province.

“The case was diagnosed on time and the person is under care in a well-equipped health center, which has no contact with the society and due to on time efforts of healthcare team the person not pose any risk to the society,” Feroz said.

“The infected person is in good health and no one well be at risk through him.”

The infected person is 35 years old young man, the minister said.

“By recording of first case of Coronavirus in Herat and following of WHO orders and standards as well as considering national interests and in consultation with the National Security Council we announce emergency situation in Herat until further notice,” he noted.

He called on all compatriots to avoid unnecessary travelling to Herat and from Herat to other provinces. Also asked the air and ground transportation to consider current situation and limit carrying passengers to Herat and from Herat to other provinces.

“My advice to Herat citizens is to avoid attending all gathering areas, such as hotels, sport gyms, pools and public baths,” he said.

He also advised the people to wash hands several times with soap on daily basis, and avoid of shaking hands and kissing during greetings. He suggest of taking enough vegetable and fruits during their daily meals.

In this sensitive phase, media, ulema, civil organization, parents and other citizens have duty to spread and support awareness campaign and help MoPH in the aspect.

Afghanistan has already made its plan, and need about to $20 million to fight the coronavirus in case its outbreak, and now five million of the mentioned amount was managed, the minister has underlined.

The health and safety of the international forces are “top priorities,” NATO’s Resolute Support mission said in a statement.

“As suspected cases are beginning to appear regionally, we are closely monitoring and implementing the guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure our forces remain effective and able to continue support to our (Afghan) partners while preventing the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

Herat includes a NATO base with Italian and other international troops. The bulk of U.S. troops in Afghanistan are based in the country’s east and south, hundreds of miles from the city.

Meanwhile, the country’s National Security Council said that all travel to and from Iran has been temporarily banned to prevent the coronavirus outbreak. It may be noted that Iran is the only Middle Eastern country that has reported deaths from coronavirus.

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