Strict Eid lockdown urged as virus cases spike in Afghanistan

Strict Eid lockdown urged as virus cases spike in Afghanistan
Health officials say the biggest challenge has been making people understand the dangers of the new disease. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Strict Eid lockdown urged as virus cases spike in Afghanistan

Strict Eid lockdown urged as virus cases spike in Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan's official death toll stands at 216, but experts fear it could spike in the coming weeks
  • The country's healthcare system is ill-equipped to handle a larger outbreak

KABUL: A spike in coronavirus infections Saturday has doubled the number of cases in Afghanistan in recent days, forcing authorities to call for a “strict lockdown” during Eid, especially in the capital Kabul.
Health officials said the country now had 9,998 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 782 people testing positive in the past 24 hours — the highest single-day jump reported in the country so far.
The number of total cases has doubled in just 10 days, raising fears of a wider outbreak across the country.
The surge in cases comes as Afghanistan grapples with rising violence that has diverted vital attention and resources away from the fight against the disease.
“We are concerned that if the lockdown is not imposed properly, the number of cases will get out of control and beyond our capacity to treat or test them,” deputy health minister Waheed Majroh told reporters Saturday.
“We want a strict lockdown,” he said ahead of Eid Al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month.
Kabul, home to more than five million people, is the epicenter of the disease, with 3,460 cases.
“There will be strict restrictions on unnecessary movements in Kabul,” the interior ministry said.
“All the roads in Kabul will be closed during Eid.”
While the official total death toll remains low — 216 — experts say the number of fatalities and infections will soar as more tests are conducted.
The virus is believed to have arrived in Afghanistan via the western province of Herat as tens of thousands of migrants returned from neighboring Iran, the region’s worst-hit country.
Authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown soon after initial cases were reported, but residents have largely ignored it.
Often impoverished Afghans — many of them surviving on daily wages — are seen venturing out of their homes to seek work rather than stay indoors.
Health officials say the biggest challenge has been making people understand the dangers of the new disease.
 


China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners
Updated 19 January 2021

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners

China rescuers drill new ‘lifelines’ to trapped gold miners
  • Twenty-two workers have been stuck 540 meters underground near Yantai in east China’s Shandong province

BEIJING: Chinese rescuers drilled several fresh holes Tuesday to reach at least 12 gold miners trapped underground for nine days, as dwindling food supplies and rising waters threatened their survival.
Twenty-two workers have been stuck 540 meters (1,750 feet) underground at the Hushan mine near Yantai in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance.
After days without any signs of life, some of the trapped miners managed to send up a note attached to a metal wire which rescuers had dropped into the mine on Sunday.
Pleading for help, the handwritten message said a dozen of them were alive but surrounded by water and in need of urgent medical supplies.
Several of the miners were injured, the note said.
A subsequent phone call with the miners revealed 11 were in one location 540 meters below the surface with another – apparently alone – trapped a further 100 meters down.
The whereabouts and condition of the other 10 miners is still unknown.
Rescuers have already dug three channels and sent food, medicine, paper and pencils down thin shafts – lifelines to the miners cut into the earth.
But progress was slow, according to Chen Fei, a top city official.
“The surrounding rock near the ore body is mostly granite... that is very hard, resulting in slow progress of rescue,” Chen told reporters on Monday evening.
“There is a lot of water in the shaft that may flow into the manway and pose a danger to the trapped workers.”
Chen said the current food supply was only enough for two days.
Rescuers drilled three more channels on Tuesday, according to a rescue map published on the Yantai government’s official twitter-like Weibo account.
A telephone connection has also been set up.
Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed dozens of rescuers clearing the main return shaft, while cranes and a massive bore-hole drill was used to dig new rescue channels to reach the trapped miners.
Rescue teams lost precious time since it took more than a day for the accident to be reported, China Youth daily reported citing provincial authorities.
Both the local Communist Party secretary and mayor have been sacked over the 30-hour delay and an official investigation is under way to determine the cause of the explosion.
Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often weakly enforced.
In December, 23 workers died after being stuck underground in the southwestern city of Chongqing, just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped underground at another coal mine in the city.