Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities enhance movement restrictions in Kabul, Afghanistan, as of April 12. Additional movement controls remain in place in many areas.

This alert affects Afghanistan

This alert began 12 Apr 2020 08:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 27 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement and travel disruptions

Summary
Afghan authorities continue to announce measures to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities issued a statement April 11 indicating that transport to and from Kabul Province would be largely suspended from April 12. The movement to and from the province will only be permitted for essential purposes, including food deliveries. Authorities in the provinces of Kapisa, Parwan, Logar, and Maidan Wardak have also indicated that movement restrictions will be enhanced; however, the exact nature of the new measures is unclear.

The latest announcement follows a series of other measures introduced recently.

  • Authorities in Kabul are prohibiting nonessential personnel from leaving their residences, with transgressors facing legal action. The security personnel will also be stationed at checkpoints monitoring movement. Extensive business and government office disruptions are likely.
  • Outside of Kabul, movement restrictive measures remain in place in Herat, Farah, Jalalabad, Asadabad, and Zaranj. As with Kabul, the movement of essential goods and personnel is likely unimpeded.
  • Land border crossings with Pakistan are closed. The border with Iran has reportedly reopened. The transport of essential goods is ongoing.
  • International departure flights are unavailable. Numerous airlines have suspended operations via Kabul (KBL). Limited domestic flights are available.
  • There is a ban on all public gatherings. The closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment sites, remain in place nationwide.
  • Persons arriving in the country with no symptoms are being advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. Persons displaying symptoms are advised to contact the Ministry of Public Health.


Additional measures are likely to be introduced in the coming days to stem the spread of COVID-19. Security forces will almost certainly deploy to manage and enforce regulations. Disruptions to business operations, public transportation, government office operations, consulate services for foreign nationals, and shortages of some goods, either due to delivery delays or panic buying, are likely to persist through the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Ministry of Health: https://moph.gov.af

Ministry of Internal Affairs: https://moi.gov.af

World Health Organization: www.who.int