KABUL, Afghanistan

Turkmenistan has offered to establish two rapid coronavirus testing labs in Afghanistan at the border dry ports, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The office of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the offer to establish the labs in Herat and Faryab provinces at the dry ports along the border was made by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow during a phone conversation with his Afghan counterpart.

“President Ghani thanked the President of Turkmenistan and welcomed the move as important in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. He [Ghani] directed that the issue be taken up at the level of foreign ministers of both the countries,” the statement said.

It added the two leaders also discussed the development of regional economic ties and the solutions to transit problems.

Earlier, health officials in Kabul told a press conference that violations of lockdown measures during Eid al-Fitr days across Afghanistan have led to grim resurgence and penetration of coronavirus in the war-ravaged country.

Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh said the three days of Eid festival were the “worst days” so far in terms of spread of the virus taking the ratio between tests and positive cases to above 60%.

“We have been warning that the flood [of virus] was about to come, now it has reached”, he said, adding the government was asked to extend and strictly enforce the lockdown.

On Wednesday, the two-month lockdown expired with public offices opening in two shifts.

Latest figures on COVID-19 indicate that 625 new cases were recorded in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 12,456 on Wednesday with a total of 227 deaths so far.

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