The Ministry of Public Health has taken “monitoring measures” in the country’s airports to prevent the outbreak of a new lethal virus that so far has killed at least 41 people in China.
An outbreak of "coronavirus" began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. So far it has infected more than 1,300 globally, according to news agencies.
The virus originated in Wuhan late last year and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, France, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.
The virus is transmitted between animals and people and can evolve into strains not previously identified in humans.
China’s geographical closeness with Afghanistan is cause for concern.
Dozens of passengers travel between China and Afghanistan every week, according to local officials.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, so far no cases of the virus have been reported in Afghanistan.
“Considering the fact that Afghanistan shares a border with China, the Ministry of Public Health has started an awareness program and it has also activated a surveillance and reporting system,” the public health ministry’s spokesman Nizamuddin Jalil said.
“Also, the minister of public health has assigned a surveillance team to airports with international flights in order to monitor passengers, and if they show the symptoms, such as fever and coughing, they should be put in quarantine,” he added.
“We have only one flight (per week) between Kabul and Urumqi which is done by Ariana Airlines,” said Ghulam Masoom Masoomi, head of Air Traffic at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“Besides this flight, passengers use indirect routes to China such as Delhi or Dubai or Islamabad,” Masoomi said.
Some Afghan students in China said they have been advised by doctors to use masks and observe a number of precautions.
“Doctors have asked the people to use masks and cover their nose and mouth and have less connection with their friends and avoid going to public places,” said Farzad Salehi, an Afghan student in China.
“The symptoms of this disease are very clear and include fever, flu, respiratory problems, and coughing,” said Mohammad Nawroz Haqmal, a specialist of hygienic measures at the Ministry of Public Health.