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Afghanistan Shuts Schools In 16 Provinces Amid COVID-19 Rise

A health worker (left) inoculates a woman with vaccine against COVID-19 at a vaccination center in Kabul in April.

Health officials in Afghanistan have ordered a two-week closure of all public and private schools and universities in the capital and 15 other provinces amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Afghan Health Ministry announced the shutdowns, with immediate effect, on May 29.

The closures include major provinces like Kabul, Helmand, and Kandahar.

They come after officials said the 24-hour total of 977 newly confirmed cases -- out of a paltry 3,800 tests -- on May 28 eclipsed the country's previous high.

Poverty and poor health infrastructure along with ongoing violence between armed groups like the Taliban who are opposed to the central government and the U.S.-led troop presence there have exacerbated the pandemic woes in Afghanistan.

Most of the positive infections were said to be in Kabul.

Conflict-torn Afghanistan's vaccine drive has been suspended due to shortages, with around 600,000 of the country's 38 million or so people having already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot.

Based on reporting by Tolo News