Afghan government extends coronavirus lockdown in Kabul for 3 more weeks

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Afghan policemen check cars at a checkpoint in the city in Kabul on April 14, 2020. - Authorities in Kabul are banning motorcycles and scooters in the Afghan capital in a bid to control rampant crime and stop assailants on two-wheelers conducting targeted killings, officials said on April 14. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)

Kabul — The Afghan government has extended the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in capital Kabul for three more weeks until May 9, vowing more restrictions on movement in the city, which has an estimated population of six million.

The lockdown also applies to provincial districts, TOLO News reported citing the governmnt as saying on Thursday.

Meanwhile, roads that connect Kabul with other provinces will also remain closed.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Interior Affairs, calling on the citizens to take the lockdown measures seriously.

Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi announced that government employees, except essential service employees, will be off for three more weeks.

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The outbreak comes as Afghan health facilities were faced with a lack of testing kits, personal protection equipment, trained personnel and funds to conduct an adequate number of tests to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The main COVID-19 testing centre in Kabul, the Afghan-Japan Hospital, has stopped taking new samples for the past two days due to an overload.

So far, 840 cases have been reported in total, 30 people have died of the virus, and 54 have recovered.

The Afghan government’s response to the outbreak has created concern among the country’s international partners, said the TOLO News report.

The European Union has extended technical and financial support to the fight against the coronavirus in the country.

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Roland Kobia, the EU special envoy for Afghanistan, said that COVID-19 in Afghanistan will not be magically contained and solved through an “invisible hand”, referring to the efforts made by the government to slow the spread of the virus.

“It requires full cooperation between humans, even enemies. Together, not against each other. The enemy has changed, it is now called coronavirus. Need to adapt to this new reality.”

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