Speaking at a press conference held in Kabul on Monday, February 24, Ferozuddin Feroz, the Afghan health minister, confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the western city of Herat which is adjacent to Iran.

The deadly coronavirus spread outside Iran on Saturday, while the Iranian authorities are battling hard to curb the outbreak of this epidemic virus.

The Afghan authorities temporarily have closed flights to Iran. The Afghan border of Islam Qala and Nimroz have also been closed and for the time being there is no movement between Afghanistan and Iran.

We are fully prepared to deal with the possible outbreak of coronavirus and there is nothing really serious about this virus, Mr. Feroz said. He asked people to stay calm and strong.

The border city of Herat is home to thousands of displaced families and Afghan returnees. The returnees and internally displaced persons, who are living in UN-funded camps where health facilities are poor, are the most vulnerable groups.

Health authorities in Herat told Kabul Now that they are prepared to deal with possible outbreak of coronavirus but many Afghan citizens in Herat are worried about the possible outbreak of the virus.  

Minister Feroz urged people to launch awareness campaign about the coronavirus and take preparation. “I can not disclose the identity of the one who has fallen ill by the virus. He is a 35 year-old man,” he said as the journalists insisted to know more about the patient.    

Economic impact

Afghanistan is hugely dependent on food products imported from Iran. The spread of virus and subsequent breakdown of border between Afghanistan and Iran will leave a heavy toll on economy of the two countries, with the prices of medicine and medical masks have already soared in the city.

Symptoms of coronavirus

Coronavirus can cause pneumonia. Those who are infected will suffer cough, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. Those who have strong immune system will not be infected by the virus. Many of those who have died were reported in poor health.

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