By Spy Uganda
Afghanistan: The majority of about 300 Ugandan guards who provide security at entry points to Operating Base Fenty, near Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, have tested positive for coronavirus.
Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday that the guards, who work for the Triple Canopy private security company, tested positive in June and were evacuated from Operating Base Fenty.
Quoting an American-based attorney, Tara Coughlin, who is representing some of the guards, Stars and Stripes stated: “The outbreak was widespread at Fenty, with a vast majority of those tested.”
However, NATO Resolute Support said in a statement that “appropriate levels of protection” are being maintained at bases across Afghanistan.
Resolute Support did not disclose how many troops or contractors in Afghanistan have tested positive for the virus.
With continued violence and one of the world’s worst health care systems, Afghanistan has struggled to contain the virus, which according to a survey earlier this month has likely infected 10 million people – a third of the population.
Stars and Stripes reported that most of the guards are still in Afghanistan and are waiting to be repatriated home to Uganda.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda’s borders are closed although the company along with the US, Afghan and Ugandan governments have been working at ways to repatriate the guards.
“The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has caused many countries to close their borders, restricting our ability to help the contracting agents facilitate the repatriation of these former contract employees,” Resolute Support said in a statement.
One of the guards who spoke to Stars and Stripes on condition of anonymity said they had told superiors months ago that they were at risk as they had to carry out body searches on everyone entering the base.
He said nothing was done until the company realized the guards were positive and by June, the majority of the guards had the virus.
By late June, the last of the infected guards had been evacuated to Bagram base outside Kabul, Stars and Stripes reported.
The guards said that after regular testing and observation by military medics, they were eventually released from isolation and have spent over a month in a Kabul hotel, waiting to be repatriated to Uganda.