Coronavirus live news: UK minister says people should return to work; Afghanistan death toll passes 1,000

The number of confirmed deaths from Covid-19 has topped 1,000 in Afghanistan, as the closure of education centres is extended until 5 August.

Violence continued to rage across 16 provinces over last week, while covid-19 related deaths rose by 16 from the previous day taking the total to 1,010.

In its latest update, the health ministry said the number of people who had tested positive for the virus had reached 34,451, an increase of 85 on the day before. Health ministry facilities were able to test 378 suspected patients over the last 24 hours. There have been 21,216 recoveries.

The capital, Kabul, which has been the country’s worst affected area, reported 14 new cases and 16 deaths overnight.

The country’s health ministry said that Afghanistan reached the peak of coronavirus, as daily infections have been dropping in recent days.

Ahmad Jawad Osmani, the country’s acting health minister said on Thursday that the number of daily infections has fallen to 30-40% percent from 60-70% percent of two months ago. Osmani warned that although the number of positive Osmani Covid-19 cases have decreased, Afghanistan is still in a state of crisis.

The committee fighting against coronavirus extended the closure of all educational centres until 5 August. Vice president Sarwar Danish who leads the emergency committee, said on Saturday that “the priority is the lives of students.”

The health ministry will start a survey in 360 villages of the country to understand the exact number of infections, the committee said that the next decision on education sectors will be announced as the survey is fulfilled.

A man wears a protective face mask as he works at a mask factory, during the coronavirus outbreak in Kabul, Afghanistan July 2, 2020.

A man wears a protective face mask as he works at a mask factory, during the coronavirus outbreak in Kabul, Afghanistan July 2, 2020. Photograph: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

Meanwhile, figures by the National Security Council indicate that 16 provinces of the country have seen 284 attacks by the Taliban in the last seven days.

“Taliban continue to take the lives of civilians in Afghanistan. This past week, they killed 23, including women and children, and wounded 45 others in 16 provinces,” said Javid Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council. “This violent phase of attacks on civilians can only deteriorate the already shaken trust on the will of the Taliban.”

At least six civilians were killed and eight more were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion Saturday in central Ghazni province. The incident occurred after a vehicle carrying civilians in the area struck a roadside bomb and women and children were among the casualties, local officials said.

Three members of one family were also killed when a mortar hit their home in Wardak province Saturday. Local media reports that residents who gathered in front of a military base in Wardak accused the government forces for firing the mortar.

The Presidential Palace said Sunday that the Taliban had disrupted the peace process by increasing the violence.

“The recent escalation of Taliban violence in cities, attacks on the country’s security and defence forces, the bombing of roadside mines by the Taliban, and the targeting of government employees do not give hope to our people and the international community to start dialogue and establish lasting peace,” said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesperson for President Ashraf.

According to a new report by Oxfam the pandemic has pushed millions of people into hunger and poverty, the number of people on the brink of famine has risen from 2.5 million in September 2019 to 3.5 million in May. Afghanistan follows Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo as the world’s worst extreme hunger hotspots where people are facing a crisis.