Afghanistan + 9 more

Afghanistan Flash Update: Daily Brief: COVID-19, No. 15 (18 March 2020)

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Situation Report
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Key Messages: UPDATED

• People confirmed to have COVID-19: 22
• People tested for COVID-19: 305
• People confirmed negative for COVID-19: 273
• Pending results: 10
• Key concern: Border crossing areas in the country’s west

(Source: Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan)

Situation Overview: UPDATED

Globally, 194,029 people have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 and 7,873 fatalities have been reported across 164 countries. The overall number of confirmed cases and fatalities outside China is now higher than in China. On 11 March, WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic. WHO reminds all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities. The increasing spread of the virus from and within Italy, Iran, Spain, France, Germany and South Korea remains a concern. Travel restrictions by countries are changing rapidly and should be monitored on daily basis.

The first person to test positive for COVID-19 in Afghanistan was confirmed on 24 February by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). A total of 22 people are now confirmed to have the virus in Hirat (13), Badghis (1), Balkh (1), Daykundi (1), Loghar (2), Kapisa (1) and Samangan (3) provinces. Contact tracing for the people confirmed with COVID-19 is ongoing. The clinical condition of the people both confirmed and presumptive for the virus is considered good. One patient in Hirat has reportedly recovered and been discharged from the treatment facility. On 14 March, the Government of Afghanistan announced that all schools would be closed for an initial period of 4 weeks – through to 18 April 2020. It is reported that all public gatherings in Hirat have been banned until further notice and further advice is being given against public celebration of the Nawruz holiday in Mazar-e-Sharif.

A number of people being held in isolation in hospital in Hirat left the facility on 16 March, although some have reportedly since returned to the hospital.A range of factors including hospital conditions, distrust of the authorities, loss of livelihoods issues, stigma and lack of understanding of risk and fear are likely to have contributed to this situation and warrant a scale-up of awareness raising among those being isolated in hospitals. The Protection Cluster will endeavour to negotiate access to those being held in medical isolation in order to ensure they understand what is happening to them and that their well-being is being protected and their specific needs addressed. Improved awareness raising at border crossings will also support this. Addressing rumours and community fears of seeking medical treatment through community engagement will be critical. The Government has also advised its provincial and district level counterparts to initiate awareness raising through community leaders and using mosques.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.