Covid surges in Kabul US embassy

By: AFP      Published: 09:22 PM, 17 Jun, 2021
Covid surges in Kabul US embassy

The US embassy in Kabul on Thursday ordered strict confinement of personnel over a surge in Covid cases at a mission already under pressure ahead of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A notice sent by embassy management said that 114 people at the sprawling and heavily guarded mission have contracted Covid-19 and one has died, with several others medically evacuated.

The embassy said it was confining all staff to their quarters except to get food or to exercise or relax alone, with all team sports and most indoor meetings prohibited.

"Failure to abide by the mission's Covid policies will result in consequences up to and including removal from post on the next available flight," the notice said.

It also encouraged vaccination. It said that 95 percent of the cases were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

Vaccination had already been prevalent at the embassy, as it has at most US posts overseas. 

The notice said that more than 90 percent of Afghan or other non-US staff at the embassy have received vaccine doses.

The State Department in April ordered the departure of non-essential staff from Afghanistan amid concern over rising violence and threats in Kabul.

The unrest comes amid fears of Taliban gains after President Joe Biden ordered a withdrawal of all troops by September 11, ending a 20-year military involvement that has been the longest in US history.

Life has been returning to normal in the United States after widespread vaccination but cases have recently spiked in Afghanistan, although officially the death toll from Covid is in the low thousands.

The United States earlier this month announced $266 million in aid to Afghanistan, mostly to tackle Covid.