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Afghanistan confirms first coronavirus-related death

Health Ministry demands government to quarantine front-line state of Herat bordering Iran

Shadi Khan Saif   | 22.03.2020
Afghanistan confirms first coronavirus-related death

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan on Sunday confirmed its first fatality related to the novel coronavirus.

Health Ministry spokesman Waheedullah Mayar told Anadolu Agency that a 40-year-old man died of the virus in the northern Balkh province.

According to the official, the family members of the deceased have moved to a Taliban-controlled area after the burial of the deceased.

Another death has been reported from the western Herat province of a man with suspected symptoms of the coronavirus, but results of his tests would emerge on Monday, Mayar said.

Earlier in the day, health authorities reported 10 additional confirmed cases of the virus, including two in the capital Kabul for the first time, taking the total to 34.

Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz told a press conference that among 10 new cases nationwide out of 97 tests were two foreign diplomats based in Kabul. He declined to share further details about the diplomats.

Feroz demanded the government to declare complete lockdown in the front-line state of Herat bordering Iran that has emerged as the epicenter of the spread of virus in Afghanistan with thousands of deportees entering on daily basis.

"People must cooperate. We urge them not to gather but then we see people together for picnics and so on, it becomes a massive problem,” he said while lamenting the social distancing being not followed.

The virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 169 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Out of almost 312,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 13,400, while nearly 94,000 have recovered.

Italy, China, Iran, and Spain continue to be the most affected countries.

Despite the rising number of cases, most of the people who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.

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