Afghanistan + 2 more

Afghanistan Flash Update: Daily Brief: COVID-19, No. 29 (7 April 2020)

Originally published


Key Messages: UPDATED

  • People confirmed to have COVID-19: 423 (Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) )
  • Deaths from COVID-19: 14
  • Tests completed: 3,031

Key concerns: Border crossing areas, measured lockdowns, testing capacity, protective equipment for frontline workers, commodity prices, floods, plans for camp and camp-like quarantine sites, messaging and rumour management, international air services

Situation Overview: UPDATED

According to Johns Hopkins University data, as of 7 April, 1.36m cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and 76,420 deaths have been reported across 184 countries and territories. The COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide. WHO has stressed that to defeat the virus, countries need to use aggressive and comprehensive package of measures: find, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every contact. WHO further calls on governments to put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials. WHO and the IMF are calling for debt relief for developing countries to avoid economic collapse, as many will struggle to implement social welfare programs at this time. On 2 April, the World Bank approved a US$100 million grant to support Afghanistan to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced detection, surveillance, and laboratory systems, as well as strengthening essential health care delivery and intensive care. On 3 April, the UN Secretary-General called for an immediate global ceasefire to help people in war-torn regions receive life-saving aid to fight the pandemic.

In Afghanistan, MoPH data shows that 423 people (including 41 healthcare workers) across 23 provinces are now confirmed to have the virus and 14 people have now died – including a healthcare worker. The case fatality rate is 3.3 per cent. Importantly, more people have now acquired the virus inside Afghanistan than have brought it from other affected countries. Hirat is still the most affected part of the country, now with 257 of the confirmed cases. To date, MoPH reports that 3,031 tests have been conducted. To scale-up testing efforts, WHO has supported the Government to establish two testing facilities in Kabul, two in Hirat, one in Mazar-e-Sharif, one in Kandahar (inaugurated on 7 April) and one in Nangarhar province. An additional testing facility is also expected to begin operations in Paktya province in the coming week. Altogether, the Government plans to expand to 15 testing facilities across the country within the month.

There has been a surge in people returning to Afghanistan across the border from Pakistan over the past two days. Almost 19,000 people crossed into Afghanistan at the Torkham and Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossings in the past 24 hours and there are more people waiting to return. Initial plans to quarantine all returnees from Pakistan for up to 21 days have now been revised due to the scale of the returns. Instead returnees are being instructed to self-quarantine in their respective homes. Humanitarian partners stress that quarantine and isolation should only be conducted for people presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 and no more than one person should be housed in one room or tent.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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