Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Afghanistan extends movement controls in major cities including Kabul through May 24. Additional nationwide restrictions to continue.

This alert affects Afghanistan

This alert began 04 May 2020 04:28 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 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 May 4. Officials are banning all interprovincial air transit and extending ongoing movement controls that prohibit nonessential outdoor activity for residents through at least May 24 in cities such as Kabul. Affected provinces include Herat, Balkh, Jalalabad, Farah, Kunar, Kapisa, Parwan, Logar, Maidan Wardak, and Zaranj. The nationwide ban on public gatherings will continue, along with the closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment sites. 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.

Officials have also maintained international travel restrictions, though land border crossings with Iran and Pakistan are opening for limited trade and exchange of stranded citizens as of May 4. Afghan traders wishing to enter Iran must produce certification of virus-free status. Authorities advise persons arriving in Afghanistan 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.


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