KABUL, Afghanistan 

Afghanistan on Friday recorded its highest death toll of 17 in past 24 hours so far due to the coronavirus pandemic as the COVID-19 ripped through the fragile health system with an upward trajectory.

Deputy Minister for Public Health Wahid Majroh confirmed in a statement an additional 414 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the country in past 24 hours.

Majroh said: “1,122 samples were tested in different laboratories in Afghanistan out of which 414 cases (of COVID-19) proved positive,” adding: “Unfortunately 17 of our countrymen lost their lives and 54 others recovered with which the total number of cases in Afghanistan reaches to 6,053.”

This represents the highest daily death toll since the first case of the virus was confirmed in the country back in February.

Due to an upward trajectory of the novel coronavirus infections, the Afghan government last month extended lockdown measures till the end of Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 24 across the country.

Earlier this month, up to 250,000 needy families in the capital Kabul and many more in three other big cities began receiving 10 free “naan” breads per day in the first phase of the free bread project in connection with the pandemic.

Afghanistan faced up to the pandemic challenge almost three months after the new coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in China last December.

After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus — has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, with Europe and the US currently the worst hit.

The pandemic has killed more than 302,000 people worldwide with more than 4.44 million confirmed cases, while recoveries are near 1.59 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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