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U.S. State Departments Says COVID-19 At Embassy In Kabul

FILE: A view of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, January 2016.
FILE: A view of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, January 2016.

The U.S. State Department says COVID-19 infections have been reported at its embassy in the Afghan capital.

The State Department did not say how many were affected. An official at the embassy in Kabul told the AP news agency that as many as 20 people were infected, the majority of whom are Nepalese Gurkhas, who provide embassy security.

"The embassy is implementing all appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," the U.S. State Department said on June 20.

Afghanistan has 28,424 confirmed coronavirus cases. Lack of testing and access to it may mean the numbers are much higher, international aid organizations monitoring the pandemic's spread in the country say.

They also fear the contagious disease has spread widely throughout the country with the return of nearly 300,000 Afghans from Iran, the hardest-hit country in the region. Iran has recorded more than 200,000 cases and 9,392 deaths.

Few of the Afghans who returned from Iran were tested before they fanned out across the country to their homes.

Earlier this month the International Rescue Committee warned Afghanistan was on the brink of a humanitarian disaster mostly because the government does not have the capacity to even test 80 percent of coronavirus cases.

Until now a handful of NATO troops have also tested positive for the infection.

With reporting by Reuters and AP