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25 Feb 2020 | 04:41 AM UTC

Afghanistan: First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Herat February 24 /update 1

Health officials confirm the first coronavirus (COVID-19) case in Herat February 24; further spread of the virus likely over the near term



Health officials have confirmed the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Herat (Herat province) on Monday, February 24. The individual reportedly visited Iran and is currently receiving treatment in isolation. Health officials are also testing the individual's close contacts for the virus as seven suspect cases have now been identified in the same area. The Afghan Ministry of Health is expected to keep the public informed via its various media platforms over the coming hours and days.

Afghanistan banned all passenger movement (including air and ground travel) to and from Iran on Sunday, February 23, after Iran reported 61 cases of the infection and 12 associated deaths.  

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 


To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the spread of the disease.