Saturday, July 31, 2021

Coronavirus outbreak at US Embassy in Kabul turns deadly, over 100 infected

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A coronavirus outbreak at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan left at least one person dead and over 100 infected, spurring a lockdown Thursday with few exceptions.

In a notice to employees, the embassy noted 114 infected people were in isolation, with several of them medically evacuated. The embassy in Kabul is already on uncertain footing due to the imminent withdrawal of American forces from the country.

Military hospital intensive care resources are strapped for capacity, resulting in temporary COVID-19 wards set up for patients in need of oxygen.

A man receives the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

“We must break the chain of transmission to protect one another and ensure the Mission’s ability to carry out the nation’s business,” the notice reads, adding that 95% of cases involve people not yet vaccinated or partially vaccinated.

When prompted by Fox News, a State Department official said the embassy in Kabul temporarily suspended all visa interviews effective June 13 due to COVID-19 conditions.

In the notice released Thursday, staffers were urged to receive vaccinations and were ordered to stay in their living quarters, except to get food or exercise alone. The lockdown bans sports, and requires 20-feet distance from others when outdoors without masks, easing distancing requirements to 6 feet where masks are worn.

“Restrictions will continue until the chain of transmission is broken,” the notice continued. 

Residents, wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, line up to receive the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Residents, wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, line up to receive the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Data compiled by the World Health Organization suggests weekly COVID-19 infections in Afghanistan saw a 25.6% uptick by June 7, with 10,637 confirmed cases. As of June 14, a total of 662,003 vaccine doses were administered.

Staffing levels at the embassy have already been significantly reduced pending the completion of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, which President Biden has ordered complete by the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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