Asia - Pacific

Afghan president's close aide dies of COVID-19

Afghanistan faces mounting new cases of infections, deaths as country grapples with shortages of oxygen, vaccines

Shadi Khan Saif   | 14.06.2021
Afghan president's close aide dies of COVID-19

KABUL, Afghanistan

A close aide and senior adviser to Afghanistan's President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has become the latest victim to the mounting coronavirus-related deaths in the war-ravaged country, officials confirmed on Monday.

According to his office, Nabi Misdaaq had been struggling with COVID-19 for the past few days, though it was not clear if he had recently been in contact with the president.

Born in 1944, Misdaaq was a veteran journalist and was among the founders of the BBC's Pashto service for Afghanistan. He had been serving as Ghani's media affairs advisor since 2015.

Afghanistan faces mounting new cases of infections and deaths as the country grapples with shortages of medical oxygen supplies and vaccines.

President Ghani tested negative for the COVID-19 last year after at least 20 reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus at the high-security presidential palace. With dozens of reported positive cases at the Presidency, the 71-year-old cancer survivor was feared as vulnerable to the virus.

Afghanistan on Sunday recorded its highest single-day death toll of 85, according to data released by the Ministry of Public Health, which also confirmed 1,597 new infections. This raised the total number of cases to 91,458.

According to official figures, at least 968,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been administered in the country. Half of these vaccines, an estimated 500,000 doses, were gifted to Afghanistan by India, while another 486,000 doses came through COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing facility.

In February, Afghanistan began the rollout of an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine as it calls for more international support to vaccinate at least 20% of its estimated population of 38 million this year, along with 60% by the end of 2022.

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