A harmful spike in COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan has gripped the U.S. embassy in Kabul, forcing an immediate lockdown as well as the creation of temporary, on-site COVID-19 wards to take care of oxygen-dependent patients, according to an internal memo.
“COVID-19 is surging in the Mission. 114 of our coworkers now have COVID and therefore are in isolation; one has died, and many have been medevaced,” reads the notice from Shane Pierce, an employee from the embassy’s gym.
His memo claims that intensive care units at a U.S. military hospital”are in full capacity,” triggering the need to prepare temporary onsite units for employees who need oxygen.
“This is the most serious outbreak (at a U.S. diplomatic facility), and I believe it’s the first time, at least recently, that we’ve had an entire embassy on lockdown,” said Eric Rubin, a former ambassador to Bulgaria and head of the foreign service association.
“This is such a truly worrying and sad situation that we feel necessary to go public and just to say, ‘Enough,'” he said. “It should be a condition of employment. People should not be allowed to endanger the lives of fellow citizens, their fellow employees.”
“Afghanistan is at a crisis point in the battle to contain COVID-19 as hospital beds are full to capacity in the capital Kabul and in many areas,” Dr. Nilab Mobarez, acting president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, said in a statement Thursday.
“This surge is fast spiraling out of control, adding huge pressures on our fragile health system and millions of people living in poverty,” he said.
Price said the U.S. embassy employee who died was a locally-employed staff member.
“Our thoughts are with that individual’s family and other loved ones,” Price said.