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Ten new corona cases confirmed, people say health authorities are not honest

22 Mar 2020 Kabul Now

An Afghan activist is distributing face-mask in Herat

The Afghan ministry of public health has confirmed ten new coronavirus cases. Speaking at a press conference today, Monday, March 22, Feroz Ferozuddin, the Afghan public health minister, confirmed that ten new positive cases of Covid-19 in the last two days.

Coronavirus outbreaks continue to climb in the country while many Afghan families, particularly in the capital Kabul, either ignore to take precautionary health measures or are unable to financially afford taking health measures such as self-isolation and quarantine. In the last two days, countless residents of Kabul attended Naruz festivity despite repeated health notices issued the ministry of public health.

We urge people to avoid public gatherings but they pay least attention and ignore it; this is a serious problem, Mr. Ferozuddin said.

With an estimated 35 million population, Afghanistan is a country where public health system is poor and most state-run health facilities are not equipped with basic health facilities. Many believe that if the virus outbreaks continue to climb fast, it will take the Afghan government by chaos and cause a national catastrophe in the country.  

Some political and religious leaders have called on the people and prayer leaders to avoid attending mosque and offer prayers at home but majority of extended Afghan families are hesitant to take the call seriously.  

Pressure grows on Afghan government and health sector as Covid-19 outbreak spreads globally. Afghan health authorities have been insisting people to take precautionary health measures but lake of public awareness about the virus, coupled with misinformation about it, has caused confusion among people.

Coronavirus outbreak spreads fast in Afghanistan’s neighboring south and western nations of Pakistan and Iran, a problem that forces hundreds of Afghan refugees to make a forced comeback to their home on daily basis. Though Pakistan has closed its borders with Afghanistan, human movement continues between the two countries.

So far, the Afghan ministry of public health has officially confirmed 35 Covid-19 positive cases but experts say the Afghan authorities conceal exact tally of coronavirus cases. In latest official record, the Afghan public health minister has confirmed three cases in Herat, two in Kabul, two in Zabul, one in Kandahar, one in Ghazni and one in Balkh—despite a fact that many Afghans, suspected of being infected by the virus, are hesitant to undergo test, and there are few hospitals facilitated with necessary medical equipment to carry out Covid-19 test in the country.  

Afghan officials say measures are underway to fight the pandemic throughout the country. They say a hospital for Covid-19 patients is under construction in the western Herat province, which is adjacent to Iran—one of the most coronavirus hit country—from where influx of Afghan returnees flow back on daily basis.

Fear and confusion about the fatal Covid-19 outbreak is on rise in Afghanistan, where majority of population live under poverty line. Both the Afghan nation and government look unprepared to tackle a pandemic that has taken many rich nations by a complete chaos and confusion.                   

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