Afghanistan + 1 more

Afghanistan: Strategic Situation Report: COVID-19, No. 70 (23 August 2020)


Key Messages:

  • People confirmed to have COVID-19: 37,999 (as of 2pm, 23 August. Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health - MoPH)

  • Deaths from COVID-19: 1,387

  • Samples tested: 100,960

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 23 million people have been diagnosed with COVID19 around the world, and at least 800,000 people have died. MoPH data shows that 37,999 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now confirmed to have COVID-19. Some 28,180 people have recovered, and 1,387 people have died (68 of whom are healthcare workers). 100,960 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 50 and 79. Men in this age group represent 50 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Moreover, men account for 70.5 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 12 August, suggests cases and deaths will continue to rise over the next four weeks. Modelling further suggests a significant increase in severe cases (potentially up to 4x 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 activities 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
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