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Afghanistan confirms first case of coronavirus from three suspected

Reuters , Monday 24 Feb 2020
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Afghanistan on Monday identified the country's first case of coronavirus as reported cases outside China jump.

Ferozuddin Feroz, the minister of public health, told a press conference in Kabul one of three suspected cases had been confirmed in the Western province of Herat.

He announced a state of emergency in the province, which borders Iran where dozens of cases of the disease have been confirmed and eight people have died, the highest death toll outside of China, where the disease originated.

"I ask people to try to stay at home and restrict their movements," Ferozuddin said, referring to residents of the border region.

The three suspected patients in Herat had recently returned from Iran, Dr Sayed Attaullah Sayedzai, head of the disease surveillance department at ministry of public health, said on Sunday.

Following the suspected cases and the news of the virus spreading in Iran, Afghanistan suspended all air and land movement to and from Iran over the weekend.

Other nations, including Turkey and Pakistan have also placed travel restrictions on Iran.

A surge in infections outside of China has created fears of a global pandemic, triggering steep falls in equity markets as investors fled to safe havens such as gold.

The coronavirus has infected nearly 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 in China, mostly in Wuhan. Outside mainland China, the outbreak has spread to about 28 other countries and territories, with a death toll of around two dozen, according to a Reuters tally.

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