A COVID Outbreak At The U.S. Embassy In Kabul Has Sickened 114 People And Killed 1
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul says it is suffering from a major COVID-19 outbreak that has largely confined staff to their quarters and is disrupting many of its operations. Earlier this week, the embassy announced that it was suspending in-person visa interviews for Afghans who had worked for the U.S. military.
In a note sent to staff, seen by NPR, the embassy says 114 people “have COVID and are in isolation; one has died, and several have been medevaced.” The note goes on to say that military hospital ICU resources are at full capacity and that the embassy has been forced to “create temporary, on-compound COVID-19 wards to care for oxygen-dependent patients.” Most of the cases involve individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
“We are saddened by the deaths of many valiant Afghans, who have been sickened by this pandemic and we in fact grieve the passing of an embassy local staff member,” said Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesperson.
The embassy requests staff to get vaccinated, stay six feet from others, suspends the use of pools and gyms, and demands strict mask compliance from staff. “Wear your masks, correctly! We are seeing a lot of noses.”
Failure to comply could see staff on the next flight home. The embassy asks them to make sure others are following protocols and to report those who aren’t.
Eric Rubin, who heads the American Foreign Service Association — the State Department’s union — says he’s hearing from members, who are “very concerned that their safety has been endangered by fellow employees, who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”