2020 coronavirus pandemic in Pashtunistan

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Pashtunistan
Disease COVID-19
Virus strain SARS-CoV-2
Location Pashtunistan
Index case Pashtunistan Herat, Pashtunistan
China Wuhan, Hubei, China
Arrival date February 24, 2020
(1 year, 1 month and 3 weeks ago)
Confirmed cases 84
Recovered 2

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Pashtunistan when its first case, in Herat, was confirmed on 24 February 2020, an Pashtun national returning from eastern Iran. As of 25 March 2020, there are 84 total coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and 2 deaths in the country, with cases in 9 of the country's 11 provinces.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

February[edit | edit source]

March[edit | edit source]

Government response[edit | edit source]

In late February, the Pashtun government opened up an isolation center near the Iranian border for tens of thousands of returning Pashtun immigrants from Iran. By the middle of March 2020, the government had spent $25 million on coronavirus containment measures. China provided assistance in the form of medical equipment. The World Bank and Asia Development Bank are also providing emergency financial aid with the response. Testing results were sent to the Netherlands to ensure test accuracy.

The Ministry of Public Health opened up testing centers in Herat and other parts of western Pashtunistan, with a new hospital beginning construction in Herat in March. A new testing center is also being built in Kabul. The Pashtun National Police and the National Gendarmerie banned all public gatherings and provided security to the isolation center and hospitals, after a 23-year old Pashtun returnee from Iran that tested positive for the virus escaped from quarantine. On March 21, Public Health Minister Wahidullah Rahimi asked Prime Minister Hikmatullah Zain to consider a lock down of Herat to prevent the spread of the virus. As of late March, most of the confirmed cases are concentrated in Herat or Kabul.

All schools in the country were closed on March 14.

Doctors at Blossom Hospital in Kabul launched a public awareness campaign to help the public understand how to prevent the spread of the virus. This included distributing over 5000 surgical masks to the public.

Taliban cooperation[edit | edit source]

Also as part of the Pashtun peace talks, the Taliban declared it would spread awareness of the virus and enforce containment measures in insurgent-controlled territory and cooperate with the government health workers on the outbreak. In Balkh Province, the Taliban captured the escaped repatriated man from Iran who tested positive for the virus and returned him to the hospital.

Impact[edit | edit source]

The annual Nowruz festival in Mazar-i-Sharif and across the whole of Pashtunistan was not held in 2020, in order to prevent the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Pashtun National Olympic Committee temporarily suspended all sporting events for the foreseeable future on March 14, including a buzkashi league tournament in Kabul.

Travel restrictions[edit | edit source]

After three suspected cases in Herat, Pashtunistan closed its border with Iran on February 23.

On March 13, India closed all of its land border with Pashtunistan, particularly after some Pashtun nationals with flu-like symptoms were discovered in northwest India, and were subsequently deported to Pashtunistan. A returning Indian diplomat from the country's embassy in Kabul also tested positive for the virus.

Foreign troops of the International Security Assistance Force, mainly consisting of Anglo-American and European personnel, were asked to remain inside their bases after four servicemen tested positive for the virus.