Health, Asia - Pacific

3 suspected coronavirus cases surface in Afghanistan

Health authorities directed to prevent spread of virus, particularly after outbreak in neighboring Iran

Shadi Khan Saif   | 23.02.2020
3 suspected coronavirus cases surface in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan

Three suspected cases of the coronavirus surfaced in Afghanistan on Sunday following a spike in confirmed cases and fatalities in the neighboring Iran.

Since the new coronavirus emerged last December, it has killed over 2,000 people in China, the epicenter of the epidemic, and more than a dozen people elsewhere in the world. Some eight deaths have been reported in Iran, the most in any country outside the Chinese mainland.

The three suspects, all adult men, recently returned from the Iranian city of Qom to Herat in Afghanistan, Dr. Nazeer Ahmad, a member of the country's coronavirus control committee told Anadolu Agency.

Qom – where multiple cases of the virus have been reported – has holy sites frequented by Afghan Shia pilgrims on a regular basis.

The suspects are being kept in isolated medical care, Ahmad added.

Their blood samples, according to the Health Ministry, have been brought to the capital Kabul for confirmation.

Last week, Afghan health authorities held an emergency meeting to fight and prevent the transmission of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

Health Minister Firouzuddin Firoz directed officials at airports and land borders to launch action plans to prevent the spread of the virus from Iran.

While the Afghanistan Embassy in Tehran temporarily suspended consular services, Pakistan reportedly closed its borders with Iran, banning all pilgrims from traveling to the Islamic republic.

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