KABUL, Afghanistan 

Amid soaring coronavirus cases, a top Afghan official on Thursday warned of an imminent catastrophe if citizens continue violating lockdown measures.

Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh made a desperate appeal to citizens to stay at home during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, this weekend.

At a news conference in the capital Kabul, he said rampant lockdown violations were leading the country towards a disaster and urged people to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“The number of [coronavirus] cases is so high that all ICUs [intensive care units] in public hospitals are full,” Majroh said, advising citizens to spend the Eid holiday only with immediate family members.

His appeal comes as Afghanistan’s daily case count is now regularly around or above 500, with almost half of suspected patients testing positive every day.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported 531 new cases and six deaths, raising the total to 8,676, including 193 fatalities and 938 recoveries.

Afghanistan is widely expected to extend its nationwide lockdown, which ends on May 24.

Restrictions were extended in Kabul, the country’s hardest-hit area with 2,767 cases and 25 deaths on Thursday.

“There will be strict measures in place to enforce a lockdown during Eid and they will continue after the holiday to stop the spread of the virus,” Governor Mohammad Yaqub told a news conference.

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