Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
With a continuous surge in coronavirus cases in Afghanistan, authorities in the capital Kabul on Wednesday introduced stricter lockdown measures following non-compliance of earlier directives.
As per orders of the Interior Ministry, only government employees and a limited number of workers associated with essential services such as health, food, telecommunications and media would be allowed to leave their homes. The new directives are effective immediately until further notice.
“Hundreds of police personnel on patrol would enforce the lockdown and anyone violating it would be taken into custody,” the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier, all residents were advised to stay home, and avoid non-essential movements and gatherings.
Positive cases in the landlocked country have surged to 423, according to health officials.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) says that all the activities of Amiri hospital have been stopped after a positive case recorded.
The spokesman of MoPH, Vahidullah Mayar in a press conference on Wednesday said that the Minister of Health, Firuzuddin Firuz, had decided to suspend all activities of the private hospital until the completion of Corona’s examinations of the Hospital’s staff.
Recently, a doctor at Amiri Hospital died of the coronavirus. He was the first doctor in Afghanistan to die from the coronavirus.
Mayar also said that 6.5 percent of Amiri hospital staff were infected with the coronavirus.
He called on other hospitals and health centers to work and cooperate with the Ministry of Public Health.
In the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, which has cost thousands of precious lives across the globe, doctors and medical staff have emerged as the true fearless warriors saving lives.
Afghan refugee Dr Saleema Rehman is one such frontline warrior in the COVID-19 battle, providing her services at Pakistan’s Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees paid tribute to the refugee doctor, serving humanity in the hour of utmost need.
In its post, the UNHCR Represntation for EU Affairs said: “ At Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Afghan refugee Dr Saleema Rehman provides a lifeline to some of the poorest people in Pakistan”.
Pakistan is among the worst-hit countries in South Asia in terms of coronavirus cases, with the tally crossing 4,000 as of Wednesday.
The country has recorded 58 deaths so far.
Local officials in Kabul say the Kabul-Bagram highway has been blocked due to the the prevention of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Kabul governor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that the Kabul-Bagram highway was closed to vehicles and passengers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and increasing the number of infected people in the capital and provinces.
The blockage of highway comes as the Kabul city today entered a phase of intense quarantine.
The Interior Ministry has instructed police to take serious action against quarantine offenders except the exceptional cases.
While the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Kabul has risen to 73 so far, officials at the Ministry of Health warned that the number of people infected in Kabul may rise in the upcoming days.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has announced the opening of a Coronavirus laboratory in Kandahar province.
MoPH officials said the lab was scheduled to be operational on Tuesday and has a capacity of 100 samples per day.
After the inauguration of the laboratory, the Minister of Health said that from now on, the suspicious samples of Coronavirus would not be sent to Kabul. Samples from Uruzgan, Zabul and Helmand provinces and will be tested in this laboratory.
Firuzuddin Firuz added that in order to equip the hospitals and laboratories of the province, three tons of equipment, including ventilators, protective packages and other necessary equipment, one ton of which arrived in Kandahar by air yesterday, and the rest will arrive in the province in the near future.
This comes as 423 people in the country are now infected with the coronavirus, of which 20 have recovered and 14 have died.
Social media videos showed an influx of thousands of Afghans from Pakistan through Torkham cross point without any medical screening, despite fears of a risk of spiraling spread of the new coronavirus.
Pakistan is now suffering from 4,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 55 deaths and the arrival of thousands from there sounds the alarms for a untamed influx of coronavirus as well.
Overall, 423 people have become infected to the coronavirus diseases in Afghanistan and 11 fatalities. This unchecked and hysteric arrival of thousands has set off a bedlam in the already-suffering country as virus threats are creeping in.
Officials, however, have said that all returnees from Pakistan are being screened for coronavirus symptoms along the Spin Boldak crossing point in Kandahar. A 50-member healthcare team has been tasked to check all passengers returning from Pakistan through Spin Boldak.
On the second day, more than 5,000 Afghan citizens willing to go to their motherland crossed the Pak-Afghan sharing border, Torkham on Tuesday.
Last day the Afghan border security after receiving 1,000 Afghan nationals carrying legal travelling documents refused to let enter more Afghans on the pretext that they set up quarantined enough for fixed figure of Afghan nationals and shut the border for all kind of movement.
According to the Pak border security official, a mammoth gathering of Afghan citizens arrived in the outskirts of Torkham border started to approach the border that developed pressure on the Afghan forces and with no choice the later permitted them to cross the border without proper document checking.
Iran’s president says if Afghans residing in Iran are infected with the coronavirus, they must be treated free of charge, because Iran and its neighbours are linked, and they should help each other in this situation.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the Afghan nationals should be treated at Iranian hospitals free of charge like all Iranians.
Speaking in a teleconference with governors of several provinces, Rouhani also reiterated that health protocols must be carefully observed at the borders with Afghanistan as well.
He referred to the implementation of the Smart Social Distancing Plan and the resumption of the operation of low-risk jobs as of April 11, saying that the gradual reopening of occupations must be done with full care and observance of all health guidelines and principles.