Afghanistan + 3 more

Afghanistan: Strategic Situation Report: COVID-19, No. 96 (6 May 2021)


Situation Overview: UPDATED

Global Update: According to John Hopkins University, more than 3.2 million people across the world have now died due to COVID-19. As of 6 may, the pandemic is affecting 192 countries with some 154 million confirmed cases globally. WHO reports that for the second successive week, the number of COVID-19 cases globally remains at the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic with over 5.7 million new cases. For the seventh consecutive week, new global deaths are on the increase, with more than 93,000 deaths recorded. WHO reports that while the emergence of new virus variants is common, those with higher speed of transmission or potentially increased pathogenicity (i.e. the capacity of a microbe to cause damage in a host) are very concerning. Crucial investigations are underway to comprehensively understand the behaviour of the new virus mutation (B117) and steer the response accordingly.

MOPH Figures: As of 6 May, MoPH data shows that 61,162 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are confirmed to have had COVID-19. Some 53,750 people have recovered, and 2,664 people have died – at least 91 of whom are healthcare workers. Since the start of the pandemic, only 412,798 tests have been conducted for a population of 40.4 million. While numbers currently remain below those seen during the peak of the first and second waves, recent official MOPH figures indicate a deterioration of the situation, potentially signalling a third wave. According to WHO, the east in particular has recently witnessed a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. Between 25 April and 1 May, 1,279 new cases and 50 new deaths were reported which is a 14 per cent increase in the cases and 4 per cent increase in deaths compared to the previous week. Afghanistan now has a test-positivity-rate – positive tests as a percentage of total tests – of 15 per cent, suggesting overall under-testing of potential cases. The majority of confirmed cases were men between the ages of 15 and 30, whereas the majority of recorded deaths were men between the ages of 50 and 79. Men account for more than 66 per cent of the total COVID-19 confirmed cases in the MoPH data, although this may be the result of over-representation of men in testing. Due to limited public health resources, lack of people coming forward for testing, 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. Stigma is considered a major factor in people choosing not to get tests and risk communications work is critical to turning this around. WHO warns that widespread complacency and failure to follow public health advice in Afghanistan is creating grave risks in the community with people generally not observing physical distancing or maskwearing protocols. WHO Afghanistan remains concerned about mutations of the virus, cases of which have been confirmed in Afghanistan. There is a significant increase in cases of the new, more infectious variant in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. MOPH is preparing for a third wave including scaling-up surveillance at borders and improved testing.

More than 7 per cent of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases are among healthcare staff and ensuring these groups are vaccinated is of critical importance. Among the provinces, Hirat, Kabul, Nangarhar and Balkh reported the highest number of cases among healthcare workers. There is an urgent need to ensure continued distribution of medical and protective equipment to frontline workers all corners of the country. 26 laboratories are now operating in Afghanistan – with plans to scale-up to at least one laboratory per province by June 2021. National laboratories are testing 7,500 samples a day. WHO reports that laboratories have capacity to test up to 8,500 samples but low demand means technicians are currently working reduced hours.


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