Virus hits U.S. embassy in Kabul

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on Thursday ordered an almost complete lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases among employees.

Already on uncertain grounds due to the imminent withdrawal of US forces from the country, the embassy in Kabul has ordered the isolation of the remaining staff to prevent the spread of covid-19, which has already killed at least one person, sent 114 to quarantine and forced several people to evacuate medically.

An embassy notice to employees said almost all group activities, including business meetings and recreational gatherings, are prohibited because intensive care units at military medical facilities in Afghanistan are at full capacity and number case required him to establish temporary covid-19 wards to treat patients requiring oxygen.

The restrictions confine all staff to their living quarters, except to feed themselves or to exercise or relax outside on their own. This requirement prohibits all sports and means that staff must stay at least 20 feet from others, unless they are wearing a mask.

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He said the restrictions will remain in place until the chain of transmission is broken. Violators will be kicked out of the country on the next available flight. The advisory said 95% of the cases involved people who had not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated against the virus and urged all staff to take advantage of the vaccines available at the embassy.

“We must break the chain of transmission to protect each other and ensure the ability of the mission to conduct the nation’s business,” Acting US Ambassador Ross Wilson said in the notice. “The restrictions will continue until the chain of transmission is broken.”

“We are all in the same boat and count on your cooperation during this difficult time,” he said. “We can only return to normal operations with the cooperation of all.”

The embassy’s staffing has already been drastically reduced pending the completion of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, which President Joe Biden ordered to be completed ahead of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on states. United September 11, 2001.

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 on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. In Afghanistan, where a wave threat to overwhelm war-torn healthcare system, 700,000 doses donated by China arrived over the weekend and within hours “people were fighting to get to the front lines,” the spokesperson said from the Ministry of Health, Dr Ghulam Dastigir Nazari. (AP Photo / Rahmat Gul)

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