Authorities in Afghanistan imposed day-time curfew Wednesday in three provinces bordering Iran in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown was implemented in Herat, Farah and Nimroz until further notice.
Health Ministry's spokesman Waheedullah Mayar told a news conference the virus has entered an epidemic phase in Afghanistan with maiden cases of local transmission confirmed.
Until now, most cases were linked to neighboring Iran.
He warned if people continued to defy social distancing and hygiene mechanisms, the virus could infect millions of Afghans and claim thousands of lives.
"In the capital Kabul, we have advised closures of wedding halls, restaurants and other places where large number of people were gathering,” he said. “If the advisory is not followed we will have to use police force to implement it.”
The number of cases surged Wednesday to 80 in Afghanistan.
President Ashraf Ghani urged the Taliban a day earlier to a cease-fire to allow screening and health services to combat areas under the group’s control.
In a televised address, he said peace remains his top priority and the government remains committed to serving people in need in all corners of the country.
“God forbid, if a catastrophe emerged in areas under the Taliban control, the Taliban and their foreign backers would be to blame,” he said.
After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 172 countries and regions.
Out of more than 438,000 confirmed cases globally, the death toll now nears 20,000, while more than 111,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Thursday 26 March 2020 09:39