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16 Apr 2020 | 05:45 AM UTC

Afghanistan: Authorities extend COVID-19 lockdown in Kabul April 11 /update 3

Authorities extend lockdown in Kabul for at least two weeks amid COVID-19 pandemic on April 11; follow authority directives

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Event

On Saturday, April 11, authorities announced that the current lockdown in Kabul would be extended for at least two weeks amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Lockdown measures include a prohibition on inter-city travel and a reduction in non-essential services. Only government employees and workers in vital sectors including health, food, telecommunications, and media are allowed to leave their homes, alongside those shopping for basic necessities. According to local sources, the lockdown may be extended past the new Wednesday, April 29, deadline.

On Wednesday, April 15, authorities in Kabul announced an indefinite ban on motorcycle use in the city. Security forces registered a sharp uptick in crime and murders committed using motorbikes in the capital since the lockdown was instituted earlier in March, sparking the ban.

Herat, near the border with Iran, and Kabul have become Afghanistan's COVID-19 outbreak epicenters.

As of Thursday, April 16, Afghanistan has confirmed 840 cases of the virus, with 30 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

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

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.