US says its embassy in Kabul battling coronavirus outbreak

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The US State Department said COVID-19 infections have been reported at its embassy in the Afghan capital. Affected employees include diplomats, contractors and locals.
The State Department didn't say how many were affected. An embassy official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to inform the media, said up to 20 people were infected, most of them Nepalese Gurkhas who are responsible for the security of the embassy.
"The embassy is taking all appropriate measures to curb the spread of COVID-19," the State Department said in a statement late Friday.
The infected staff is isolated at the embassy while the rest of the site is being tested, the embassy official said. This official added that the embassy staff had been told that they could expect stricter isolation orders.
The State Department said the facility was being renovated to "prevent another outbreak."
Afghanistan has 28,424 confirmed coronavirus cases. International aid agencies monitoring the spread of the pandemic in the country say the numbers are much higher due to lack of testing skills and access to testing.
Observers also fear that the highly contagious corona virus has spread across the country and nearly 300,000 Afghans have returned from Iran, the region's most affected country. Iran has recorded more than 200,000 cases and 9,392 deaths.
Few of the Afghans returning from Iran were tested before they left for their homes across the country.
Earlier this month, the International Rescue Committee warned Afghanistan of a humanitarian catastrophe, mainly because the government can't even test 80% of coronavirus cases.
A handful of NATO troops have also tested positive for the infection. Status
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Lee reported from Washington. Associate press writer Kathy Gannon from Islamabad contributed to this report
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