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US embassy in Kabul suffering major Covid outbreak that has infected 114 and killed one

·2-min read
An Afghan man walks during the first day of the Nowruz (Noruz), or Persian New Year, in a hilltop overlooking of Kabul on March 21, 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)
An Afghan man walks during the first day of the Nowruz (Noruz), or Persian New Year, in a hilltop overlooking of Kabul on March 21, 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)

The US embassy in Kabul has suffered a major Covid-19 outbreak that has infected 114 people and killed one.

The outbreak in the Afghanistan capital has confined staff to their quarters and disrupted operations, according to CNBC.

“Military hospital ICU resources are at full capacity, forcing our health units to create temporary, on-compound Covid-19 wards to care for oxygen-dependent patients. 95 per cent of our cases are individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated,” the embassy wrote in a memo, according to CNBC.

Embassy officials have requested staff to get vaccinated, stay six feet apart, observe strict mask wearing, and have suspended the use of pools and gyms.

Staff who don’t follow the policies could face removal from their post “on the next available flight,” the embassy added.

“Individuals may walk, run, or relax outdoors without masks provided that they are ALONE, which means at least 20 feet from others. Any closer requires a mask,” the memo added.

The State Department has not disclosed how many employees it has at the embassy, but it is thought to be one of its largest facilities.

The US is expected to finally withdraw its military from Afghanistan by July after two decades on the ground, with a symbolic end date of 11 September.

“We are saddened by the deaths of many valiant Afghans, who have been sickened by this pandemic and we in fact grieve the passing of an embassy local staff member,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Eric Rubin, who leads the American Foreign Service Association, which is the State Department’s union, says members are concerned “their safety has been endangered by fellow employees, who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”

“Our understanding is that there is enough vaccine at every embassy and consulate in the world for anyone, who wants to get it,” Mr Rubin told National Public Radio.

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