Afghanistan + 4 more

Afghanistan: Strategic Situation Report: COVID-19, No. 66 (5 August 2020)

Situation Report
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Key Messages: UPDATED

  • People confirmed to have COVID-19: 36,829 (as of 2pm, 5 August. Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health - MoPH)
  • Deaths from COVID-19: 1,294
  • Samples tested: 89,822

Key concerns: Border crossing areas, in-country testing capacity, protective equipment for frontline workers, maintaining essential health services, sustained prevention and mitigation measures, messaging and rumour management

Situation Overview: UPDATED

MoPH data shows that 36,829 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now confirmed to have COVID-19. Some 25,742 people have recovered, and 1,294 people have died (57 of whom are healthcare workers). 89,822 people out of a population of 37.6 million have been tested. Almost 10 per cent of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases are among healthcare staff. The majority of the deaths were people between the ages of 40 and 69. Men in this age group represent more than 51 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Moreover, men account for more than 71 per cent of the total COVID-19 confirmed cases although this may be the result of over-representation of men in testing. Due to limited public health resources and testing capacity, as well as the absence of a national death register, confirmed cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are likely to be under reported overall in Afghanistan. Modelling suggests the peak has not yet passed and cases may still accelerate over the coming weeks, creating grave implications for Afghanistan’s economy and people’s well-being. Kabul remains the most affected part of the country in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Hirat, Balkh, Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces.

Complacency and failure to follow public health advice is creating grave risks in the community with markets reportedly busy over the Eid holiday and people not observing physical distancing protocols. Hospitals and clinics continue to report challenges maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as maintaining essential health services. WHO notes that it is important to ensure healthcare workers have the proper personal protection to carry out their services. In addition, people need to be assured that it is safe to seek treatment in hospitals and health centre through proper infection prevention and control measures, and effective and accurate risk communication messages. Current laboratory capacity in Afghanistan remains limited. Humanitarian partners urge the Government of Afghanistan to ensure accountability on health service delivery to ensure life-saving programs are delivered to those most in need.

WHO notes that when health systems are overwhelmed, as is being seen in Afghanistan, both direct mortality from the outbreak and indirect mortality from vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically. WHO stresses the need to balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, with simultaneously engaging in strategic planning and coordinated action to maintain essential health service delivery, mitigating against the risk of system collapse.

On 30 July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement welcoming announcements by the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban of a ceasefire to enable the people of Afghanistan to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday in peace. The statement stresses that only a peace settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan, and reiterates the urgency of a lasting ceasefire for addressing the COVID-19. UNAMA’s recent Protection of Civilians report, released on 27 July, further notes the lasting impact of armed conflict on civilians, the dramatic reduction in people’s ability to access support to recover due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the imperative for all parties to the conflict to reduce violence now.

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