U.S. Embassy in Kabul Goes on Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Outbreak That Killed One Staffer and Infected 114 People

View of the U.S. Embassy (front buildings) in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 20, 2016. AfghanistanLM REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

The US embassy in Kabul has had to shut down almost all its operations because of a Covid-19 outbreak that has killed one staffer, and left 114 infected and quarantined.

According to a notice sent to all embassy staff on Thursday, “several” people have had to be medevaced. Military intensive care units (ICUs) are full, and emergency ICUs have had to be improvised on the embassy compound.

Embassy employees have been told to stay in their quarters except for going to the cafeteria or taking exercise alone.

“Exceptions for work outside of quarters must be both mission-critical and time-sensitive, and approved by supervisors in writing,” the notice said. “Failure to abide by the mission’s Covid policies will result in consequences up to and including removal from post on the next available flight.”

The memo said 95% of the Covid cases were among staff who were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. It said vaccines were available and urged staff to get the jab, noting that over 90% of the Afghan and non-American staff have been vaccinated.

The memo seemed to imply there has been reluctance among US embassy staff to get vaccinated. The state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The American Foreign Services Association (AFSA), the diplomats’ trade union, called for vaccination to be made compulsory at US diplomatic missions.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Julian Borger

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