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COVID-19

Kabul’s municipal bus service suspended due to COVID crisis

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(Last Updated On: June 17, 2021)

Kabul municipality on Thursday said it had suspended the municipal bus service until further notice due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Services will be suspended from Saturday, the municipality said.

“The city buses that operate in Kart-e-Naw and Ahmad Shah Baba Mina will be stopped from this Saturday to avoid the spread of coronavirus,” the municipality announced on its Facebook page.

The municipality stated that the service will resume once the infection rate levels out.

The municipality also called on all drivers to keep their passenger numbers low in vehicles and for all members of the public to adhere to health protocols including social distancing regulations and the wearing of masks.

This comes after the Ministry of Public Health on Wednesday reported 94 deaths from COVID-19 across the country.

However, analysts have stated that the official tally of COVID cases is far lower than the actual figures.

According to a World Health Organization report late last month, “limited public health resources, lack of people coming forward for testing, as well as the absence of a national death register” could mean that COVID-19 cases and related deaths are underreported in the country.
The report stated that as of 20 May, “only 434,506 tests have been conducted for a population of 40.4 million” since the start of the pandemic. This means that Afghanistan ranked 194 of 220 countries and territories on that day.

Afghanistan’s test-positivity rate of 15 percent also indicates “overall undertesting of potential cases,” said the report. Five days later, on 25 May, of the 3,489 tests conducted countrywide, 24.8 percent were positive, according to Worldometer.

COVID-19

China’s COVID-19 lockdown strands 25,000 tourists in Sanya resort town

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(Last Updated On: August 8, 2022)

China’s popular tourist island of Hainan locked down more areas on Monday as it battles its worst COVID-19 outbreak after recording very few cases over the past two years, compared with many other regions in the country.

About 25,000 tourists were stranded in Sanya, the hardest-hit city in Hainan’s outbreak and the island’s key tourist center, as of Sunday, The National reported.

The island in the South China Sea, which recorded just two local symptomatic COVID cases last year, has reported more than 1,400 infections this month. 

Although that is small by global standards, it is the province’s biggest outbreak since the virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, The National reported.

The provincial capital city of Haikou, with about 2.9 million residents, and two smaller towns, Ledong and Chengmai, locked down its residents on Monday, according to state media reports.

The lockdowns in several cities on the tropical island dashed hopes for a quick rebound of the country’s ailing aviation sector, which had counted on a summer travel boom to help to trim record losses.

As of Sunday, mainland China had confirmed 231,266 cases with symptoms, including both local patients and symptomatic international travelers.

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COVID-19

President Biden tests negative for Covid-19

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

President Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday, according to a letter from White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor, but he will continue to isolate until he tests negative a second time, NPR reported.

“The President continues to feel very well,” O’Connor wrote. Biden has been testing daily since he first tested positive for the virus on July 21. The White House said he experienced only mild symptoms, including fatigue, a runny nose, and cough.

According to NPR Biden, who is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, was prescribed the antiviral therapy Paxlovid, a standard course of treatment for people who are considered to be at higher risk of adverse affects of COVID, including anyone over 50.

His symptoms were “nearly resolved” after four days of treatment, the White House said.

The president briefly left isolation last week, after testing negative for COVID on July 27. He reentered isolation after testing positive again on July 30, in what O’Connor described as a “rebound” case, read the report.

On Saturday night, the White House announced that Biden planned to travel to Rehoboth Beach, Del., early on Sunday morning.

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North Korea marks end of first COVID wave, but risks persist

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2022)

North Korea on Friday said all of its fever patients have recovered, marking the end of its first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but challenges linger with economic hardships deepening and an unvaccinated population exposed to future resurgences, Reuters reported Friday.

While state media said the “anti-epidemic situation has entered a definite phase of stability”, rather than boasting of victory, North Korea said it would “redouble efforts to maintain perfection in the execution of state anti-epidemic policies”. 

The reclusive country has never confirmed how many people caught COVID-19, apparently lacking testing supplies. But it said around 4.77 million fever patients have fully recovered and 74 died since late April. It has reported no new fever cases since July 30.

South Korean officials and medical experts have cast doubts on those figures, especially the number of deaths.

Shin Young-jeon, a professor at Hanyang University’s medical school in Seoul, said while the peak of the first COVID wave may have passed, the stated fatalities were nearly “impossible” and there could be up to 50,000 deaths.

“Their success, if any, should lie in the fact that the outbreak didn’t lead to a political or social chaos. Whether their COVID response was successful was another problem.”

South Korea’s Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, said this week there were “credibility issues” with the North’s data but the COVID situation seemed “somewhat under control.”

Experts said the pandemic and a nationwide lockdown would deepen the North’s already dire food situation, and the World Health Organization said in June the COVID situation there could be getting worse.

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