The president of Afghanistan called for unity against coronavirus as the country recorded its biggest one-day rise in number of positive cases of the virus, triggered by a surge of infections in Kandahar and Helmand.
Fifty-eight new infections have been confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 665, a health ministry spokesman said. Three new deaths have also been reported, with the death toll reaching 21. There have been 37 recoveries.
Herat is worst affected city with 287 confirmed cases. The number of infections in Kandahar rose to 73 after 28 new reports in the last 24 hours. Concerns are high in Kandahar as thousands of Afghan migrants have poured back from Pakistan in recent days.
The country’s capital, Kabul, has so far recorded 160 cases, 13 of them reported today. All the roads to Kabul were blocked on Sunday, tightening the restrictions on movements in a city of around six millions in a bid to contain the outbreak.
Elsewhere in Helmand, seven new cases pushed the total number of infections to nine.
Over the weekend, the European Union directed €117m (£102m) to help Afghanistan’s fight against the virus. The EU said it recognized that Afghanistan “may be severely affected” by the pandemic as its public health service “weakened by years of conflict, has to cope with limited resources”.
Meanwhile Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani called for unity. Speaking at an event at the Presidential Palace on Sunday, Ghani said overcoming a health and economic crisis requires a “unified” perspective.
“There is a need for speed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and manage the activities in a timely and proper way,” Ghani said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to show at this point that we have a resolute decision, the ability to manage the crisis”.
The pandemic comes at a time of intense political tension between president Ghani and and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah.