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28 Georgian Soldiers in Afghanistan Infected with Coronavirus

FILE - Georgian troops march during a sending off ceremony before leaving for Afghanistan in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The novel coronavirus has reportedly infected 28 Georgian soldiers in the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

The infected soldiers have been transported back to their country and are undergoing treatment in a military hospital, local media quoted Georgia’s Ministry of Defense as saying. It described the health condition of the soldiers as “satisfactory.”

A spokesman for the non-combatant military alliance in Afghanistan, when contacted for comments Friday, referred VOA to Georgian defense officials to talk about the status of their forces.

“Resolute Support does not confirm individual case numbers. Protection of the force from all threats, to include COVID-19, remains our top priority,” said the spokesman.

Georgia is said to be the largest non-NATO contributor to the 38-nation military mission in Afghanistan with around 900 soldiers.

The military alliance has reported several cases of infections since the pandemic reached Afghanistan four months ago without disclosing the nationalities of those suffering from the virus.

As of Friday, the official tally of coronavirus cases in Afghanistan stood at about 34,000, with nearly 1,000 deaths.

Afghan public health officials, however, have warned that the actual numbers are much higher, citing limited testing capacity, among other challenges facing the war-hit health care system. They anticipate that more than half of the country’s estimated 37 million population could become infected in the coming months.

NATO has lately stepped up cooperation with Afghan national security forces to help them fight the pandemic by providing supplies of personal protective medical equipment, including 1.4 million masks, 500,000 gloves and 460,000 gowns.

The virus is reportedly sweeping through Afghan military and police forces. The Afghan defense ministry, however, denies any large scale infections among security forces.