Afghanistan + 3 more

Afghanistan: Strategic Situation Report: COVID-19, No. 68 (13 August 2020)

Situation Report
Originally published


Key Messages:

• People confirmed to have COVID-19: 37,424 (as of 2pm, 13 August. Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health - MoPH)
• Deaths from COVID-19: 1,363
• Samples tested: 97,778

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

Situation Overview:

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 20 million people across the world have tested positive for COVID-19, and the growth rate continues to accelerate. MoPH data shows that 37,424 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now confirmed to have COVID-19. Some 26,714 people have recovered, and 1,363 people have died (58 of whom are healthcare workers). 97,778 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 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 under reported overall in Afghanistan. Kabul remains the most affected part of the country in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Hirat, Balkh, Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces.

Complacency and failure to follow public health advice is creating grave risks in the community with people generally not observing physical distancing protocols. Recent modelling on COVID-19 projections, developed by the Centre for Humanitarian Data in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and released on 29 July, suggests an increase in the number of cases in Afghanistan, including an increase in the number of severe cases and deaths, in the coming weeks if current preventative measures are maintained. Modelling further suggests a significant increase in severe cases (potentially up to 5x the number) should current preventative measures be lifted, creating grave implications for Afghanistan’s economy and people’s well-being.

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 services. In addition, effective and accurate risk communication messages are needed to re-assure people that it is safe to seek treatment at hospitals and health centres and that health centres are carrying out proper infection prevention and control measures. Current laboratory capacity in Afghanistan remains limited. Humanitarian partners urge the Government of Afghanistan to ensure laboratories are appropriately equipped and that procured supplies go to under-resourced health centres in a transparent manner, so that life-saving support can be 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.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit