Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
At Mahmod Azizi’s shop in Afghanistan’s capital, a kilo of lemons now sells for 400 Afghani – more than $5. Low supplies fuelled by coronavirus fears, he said, have pushed him to double his prices.
“They are a high source of vitamin C, so they are in high demand,” the 50-year-old Kabul vendor explained. “Of course I don’t want to increase prices, but what choice do I have? Everyone needs food, but there’s less available in the market. Soon, only the wealthy people might be able to eat.”
Border closures and export restrictions are squeezing supply lines and pushing food prices upward in Afghanistan, raising fears that millions already facing emergency levels of food insecurity will be even more at risk as the coronavirus spreads.
During the last two weeks of March, as COVID-19 cases increased in Afghanistan, the price of wheat flour also surged across the country – including a 20 percent rise in the northeast city of Faizabad.
The increases are caused in part by regional border restrictions as Afghanistan and its neighbours – particularly Pakistan to the south – try to contain a pandemic that has now infected more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
President Ashraf Ghani and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke with each other on Tuesday, discussing the coronavirus outbreak, return of refugees and political situation.
During the call, Zarif assured that his country provides free health services to Afghan refugees suffering from coronavirus, according to a statement from the president’s office.
The statement said that they also had “friendly” exchange of views on political situation in Afghanistan and the region.
Iran has registered 62,589 coronavirus cases and 3,872 deaths. Afghanistan has 423 infections and 14 deaths.
Herat, which is near the border with Iran, is the epicenter of Afghanistan’s coronavirus outbreak.
More than 40 health workers in Herat, including doctors, nurses and administrative staff, have reportedly contracted with the coronavirus, local officials said.
Nasser Habib, head of the Herat Regional Hospital, told the media outlets that a number of doctors and staff, administrative and nursing staff at the hospital had contracted the coronavirus.
He added that the patients are in good health conditions.
Meanwhile, Herat Public Health officials confirmed that three doctors have admitted to have infected with the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Herat Public Health Department acknowledges the lack of health facilities to protect doctors against the coronavirus.
“The number of health workers infected with the coronavirus in Herat province last week was 16, but now it has risen to 41, and most of these doctors and health workers are living in solitary confinement,” according to TOLOnews.
This comes as Herat has the highest number of people infected with the coronavirus in Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says the death toll from the coronavirus in the country reaches to 14 and the number of recovered patients reaches to 20.
Fada Mohammad Peykan deputy of the Minister of Health Services, said in a joint press conference with Vahid Omar, president Ghani’s adviser that more than 3,000 suspected cases of coronavirus have been tested in the ministry’s laboratories so far.
Peykan added that of all the suspicious cases, 423 were found to be positive, of which 385 were satisfactory.
He pointed out that among those infected with the coronavirus, 91 of them had a history of traveling to countries affected by the coronavirus.
He once again called on the people to take the advice of the Ministry of Health seriously and stay at home.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) that 56 six new cases of coronavirus were reported in the country, taking the total tally of positive cases to 423.
Citing the data compiled by the Ministry of Public Health over the past 24 hours, TOLOnews reported that Herat has registered 27 new cases, 12 in Kabul, 10 in Kandahar, five cases in Balkh and two in Nangarhar.
Out of 140 samples tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, 27 were positive which included 21 men and six women, a spokesperson for the provincial health department was quoted as saying.
The total cases in Herat are 257 so far.
At least 11 people are reported dead from coronavirus in Afghanistan and 18 others have recovered.
A second refugee camp in Greece has been put on quarantine after an Afghan resident tested positive for coronavirus, the country’s Migration Ministry said.
According to the Ministry, the Afghan man who lives at the Malakasa camp, which is located near Athens, has been transferred to a hospital in the capital while tests on his contacts, staff and any people with suspected symptoms are in process.
The camp is currently sheltering over 1,700 people. Under the quarantine rules, no one will be allowed to enter or leave the camp for 14 days, with the police monitoring the implementation of the restrictions.
Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Shehryar Khan Afridi sought the assistance of United Nations (UN), United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) and international community for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and facing problems due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He urged the world bodies to come forward and help the refugees stationed in Pakistani camps amid the limited movement as part of national strategy to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, by announcing a relief package for them.
The Minister made these remarks while speaking to media here at Afghan Camp after installing a walk through sanitation gate at the camp.
Afridi warned the prosperous world and the United Nations against developing human crisis in Afghan refugees’ camps due to prolonged lockdown situation amidst Coronavirus outbreak.