06/18/2021, 16.21
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As COVID-19 spreads in Afghanistan, Pakistan closes its borders

Testing over the past week shows a 30 per cent positivity rate, pushing hospitals to the brink of collapse. The US embassy is placed under quarantine after it reports a major viral outbreak. Only 650,000 people have been vaccinated in a country of 38 million people.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Afghanistan is now in the frontline of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic in Asia, as the number of cases reaches a new high, putting great pressure on the country’s hospitals.

About 1,677 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the last 24 hours but with only 4,711 people tested and a positivity rate holding at 30 per cent last week.

The official death toll is also rising with 101 on Wednesday and 87 on Thursday, for a total so far of 4,030.

With limited testing and a high positivity rate, many people believe that the real figures of the pandemic are underestimated.

The growing viral tide comes at a time of rising violence associated with the phased withdrawal of US and international troops.

The most serious situation is in Kabul, where local sources note that about 300 people are being hospitalised per day, most of them over the age of 40.

“Afghanistan is at a crisis point in the battle to contain COVID-19,” said Nilab Mobarez, acting President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, in a statement released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

An outbreak has also been reported at the US Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, which is coordinating the withdrawal of US troops set to be completed on 11 September. As a result, the entire legation and its staff has been placed under quarantine.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today decided to close its borders with Afghanistan by shutting down the Friendship Gate in the border town of Chaman.

The crossing is used by thousands of people who walk across every day. With the sudden decision to close, some have been stuck on the wrong side of the border.

The slow rollout of the vaccination campaign is also helping the virus to spread. Only 656,000 people have been vaccinated out of a population of 38 million, including 121,000 healthcare workers and 81,000 teachers.

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