The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Tuesday said that so far seven people in Afghanistan have been infected with a coronavirus variant similar to the type seen in the UK.
The ministry warned that this may be the start of the third wave of the coronavirus in the country.
Figures by the health ministry show that COVID-19 cases have surged in the last two weeks--along with death rates--as eight people have died of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
Health officials said that 11 tests were conducted for a variant type of the coronavirus in Nangarhar province in the east of Afghanistan over the last few days and seven have tested positive.
The ministry is assessing the infected people to find out where they have recently traveled and with whom they have had contact.
"Where they have gone and who they have met has been gathered. Right now, almost all of the seven patients are under quarantine,” said Dastagir Nazari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
The spokesman said efforts are underway to expand COVID-19 vaccination to prevent a new wave of the virus.
Afghanistan has received nearly one million doses of coronavirus vaccine from India and the European Union.
So far, 58,000 people have received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine in the country. The plan calls for 60% of the population to be vaccinated by the end of next year, health officials said.
“This disease was brutal. It killed many of our family members,” said Diba, a Kabul resident.
“People should use a mask when they are out. We are close to the third wave,” said Sadaf, a Kabul resident.
Doctors said the new variant of the coronavirus is dangerous because of its infectivity rather than its symptoms.
“It is 70% more contagious,” said Mohammad Nabil Faqiryar, a pediatric specialist. “Seven cases (of the new variant) have been reported so far and it might increase and the symptoms are mostly the same.”
The Ministry of Public Health reported 70 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The cumulative number of cases is now over 56,400.