Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Afghanistan extended movement controls in Kabul Province through May 7. Additional restrictions remain in place in most urban areas.

This alert affects Afghanistan

This alert began 17 Apr 2020 15:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 07 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Afghan authorities continue to enforce measures to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of April 17. Transport to and from Kabul Province will remain suspended through at least May 7. Officials will only permit movement to and from the province for essential purposes, including food deliveries. Authorities in Kabul Province, including in Kabul city, are prohibiting nonessential personnel from leaving their residences, with transgressors facing legal action. Officials have implemented similar movement controls in the provinces of Herat, Balkh, Jalalabad, Farah, Kunar, Kapisa, Parwan, Logar, Maidan Wardak, and Zaranj. Security personnel remain stationed at checkpoints to monitor movement, though enforcement of restrictions has reportedly varied in many areas. Extensive business and government office disruptions are likely. The nationwide ban on public gatherings has continued, along with the closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment sites.

Officials have also maintained international travel restrictions. Land border crossings with Pakistan are closed, except for the movement of goods and emergency repatriation of stranded citizens. Authorities advise persons arriving in the country with no symptoms to self-quarantine for 14 days, and persons displaying symptoms to contact the Ministry of Public Health. International departure flights are unavailable. Numerous airlines have suspended operations via Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL). Limited domestic flights are available.

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