Kabul residents flout lockdown rules

Kabul, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- Many residents of Kabul paid little attention to the coronavirus lockdown on Saturday and treated the day more like a holiday.

Although the measures dictated that only those working in healthcare or security or providing food had to go to work, a large number of shops and businesses that had not been granted an exemption decided to open up nonetheless.

Street sellers also continued to work in most parts of the city during the day.

“Based on the decision of the Emergency Committee of Combating Coronavirus and guidelines of the Health Ministry, Kabul city is put into lockdown for now,” Marwa Amini, deputy spokeswoman for the interior ministry told Efe.

“We ask all our citizens to remain cooperative and have comprehensive cooperation with their police and other organs by respecting the lockdown and not to come out of their homes during these days for unnecessary things.”

She added that in most parts of the city “the presence of people was less than normal days” but acknowledged the lockdown had not been fully respected.

The interior minister, Masoud Andarabi, directed all police to be “nice and kind under any circumstances” to citizens but warned that police will be strict in the coming days if people continue to violate the law.

Those who did decide to work despite the lockdown, mostly from poor backgrounds, said their financial situation meant they were unable to isolate at home.

“I don’t know how long this quarantine thing will take, I have my family and children who need a piece of bread and for that I have to work” Jan Agha, a sapling and flower plants seller in Kabul’s Parwan-e-se area told Efe.

Flower selling is a seasonal business that only lasts for a few weeks in spring.

“I spent all my money and bought saplings and plants to sell them, if I remain in quarantine for two or three weeks, then all of them will be dried and wasted” Agha said.

But some citizens are even more vulnerable than Jan Agha and can’t be at home even for a single day.

“I rented this car and use it as a taxi. I earn three to four hundred Afghanis ($4-$5) daily and every day buy food for my children. Zadran Dostukhail, in his 40s, told Efe.”If I stay home, then we’ll have to sleep hungry.”

Officials have called on everyone to stay at home, regardless of their financial situation.

“We are in a sensitive and dangerous phase, the more we apply the directions, the more we prevent the spread of the deadly virus in our country” Nizamuddin Jalil, Kabul Hospitals General Director told Efe.

So far 112 Afghan citizens have tested positive to COVID-19 throughout the country, most of them in the western province of Herat, three of them have died and only four have been discharged from hospital.

Afghan authorities announced on Friday a three-week long quarantine of the capital.

Around 5 million people live in Kabul, which is considered the most vulnerable city in the country in terms of Covid-19 spreading.

During quarantine, citizens are only allowed to leave their homes for health or security reasons and to buy food and other necessities.

All government organizations are to remain closed except for those related to health and security and those which provide life-saving and urgent services to citizens. EFE/EPA

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