KABUL, Afghanistan 

Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Thursday half of his family members and office staff contracted the new coronavirus.

In a social media post, Saleh requested the people to take the crisis seriously, follow safety and hygiene measures, and stay home.

“No one is safe. More than half members of my family and office staff are now suffering from this pain [coronavirus]. The country is currently at the worst stage of the outbreak of the virus … your cooperation will reduce the severity of this crisis”, said Saleh, a former intelligence chief of the country.

This came as new Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani took charge in the country on Thursday amid surging cases of COVID-19.

Promising reforms in the fragile health care system of the war-ravaged country, he acknowledged shortcomings.

“The COVID-19 centers and hospitals should be turned into places where patients can confidently quarantine themselves and further infection of others can be prevented,” he said.

Former Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz had also contracted the virus, but recovered after two weeks of isolation. He completed his term last month.

Afghan officials have been outraged by the public’s rampant violation of the lockdown and preventive measures towards the pandemic.

According to the Health Ministry figures, 18,969 people have been infected with the virus to date. It reported a total of 309 deaths with 915 new positive cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths.

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