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Saturday 8 August 2020

At least 17 Loya Jirga Participants Positive for Coronavirus

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KABUL (Reuters) — At least 17 participants of a major Afghan grand assembly tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said on Saturday, a day after the high-profile gathering began in Kabul to deliberate over the fate of Taliban prisoners and the beginning of the peace process in the war-torn country.

After being called by the Afghan government, the gathering, known as the Loya Jirga, began on Friday with over 3,600 participants amid tight security and the COVID-19 pandemic to debate whether hard-core Taliban prisoners should be freed, removing a major obstacle in the peace talks.

“Samples from all 3,620 participants were taken by our health team, and among them result of 17 were positive” for the virus that causes the disease, said Saeed Jami, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s ministry of public health. Some participants were tested twice, he said. The 17 who tested positive have been sent to the hospital quarantine and treatment, he added.

It was not immediately clear if the testing was done before or after the assembly began, but there is a fear that the infection could have spread given the size of the gathering, which took place under a tent.

View online : Coronavirus and Central Asia

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