Afghanistan + 2 more

Afghanistan Flash Update: Daily Brief: COVID-19, No. 30 (8 April 2020)

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Key Messages:

• People confirmed to have COVID-19: 444 (Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH)

• Deaths from COVID-19: 15

• Tests completed: 3,103

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:

According to Johns Hopkins University data, as of 8 April, 1.44m cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and 83,471 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. In a bid to increase access to quality-assured, accurate tests for COVID-19, on 7 April, WHO gave ‘emergency use listing’ (EUL) for the first two diagnostic tests. The EUL procedure was established to expedite the availability of diagnostics needed in public health emergency situations.

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. On 5 April, the Secretary-General urged governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19 after reports of alarming global rise in domestic violence cases since the start of the outbreak.

In Afghanistan, MoPH data showed that 444 people across 24 provinces were confirmed to have the virus and 15 people have now died. The case fatality rate is 3.4 per cent. As of 7 April, there were 41 confirmed cases among healthcare workers in Afghanistan and one death. 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, as of 7 April. To date, MoPH reported that 3,103 tests have been conducted. To scaleup 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 and one in Nangarhar province with more to come. 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 three days. An estimated 60,000 people crossed into Afghanistan at the Torkham and Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossings since the border was re-opened on 6 April – many without undergoing formal document checking/registration and health screening.

However, the process was reportedly more orderly on 8 April than the previous day with health screening procedures being followed. Yet, there remains screening gaps at the border. 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 selfquarantine 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. Awareness-raising and sensitization on the virus are also urgently needed for returnees upon their arrival.

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