Jun 17, 2021 - Health

U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on lockdown amid surge in COVID-19 cases

, medical staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) prepare to assist a suspected COVID-19 coronavirus patient in Kabul.

Medical staff members prepare to assist a suspected COVID-19 coronavirus patient in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images.

More than 100 people at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul have been diagnosed with COVID-19, at least one person has died and several others have been medically evacuated out of the country, CNN reports.

State of play: Effective immediately, all embassy personnel will be placed on lockdown and only permitted to leave their quarters to get food or to exercise outdoors, according to CNBC.

  • An embassy management notice dated June 17 and obtained by CNN said that "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% of our cases are individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated," the notice also said, per CNN.

The big picture: The outbreak at the embassy comes amid a surge in cases across Afghanistan, leaving the health care system in a precarious position.

  • Infection rates have increased by around 2,400% in Afghanistan in the past month, according to a statement from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Thursday.
  • “Afghanistan is at a crisis point in the battle to contain COVID-19 as hospital beds are full to capacity in the capital Kabul and in many areas," the IFRC wrote in a statement. "This surge is fast spiralling out of control adding huge pressures on our fragile health system and millions of people living in poverty."
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