Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Afghanistan faces catastrophe as Covid-19 cases grow, says Red Crescent

Country reports 34,740 infections and 1,062 deaths, although figures are probably far higher

A man wears a protective face mask as he works at a mask factory, during the coronavirus outbreak in Kabul, Afghanistan July 2, 2020. REUTERS
A man wears a protective face mask as he works at a mask factory, during the coronavirus outbreak in Kabul, Afghanistan July 2, 2020. REUTERS

Afghanistan faces catastrophe as growing Covid-19 cases stretch a health infrastructure already severely weakened by decades of war, the Afghan Red Crescent Society said on Tuesday.

About 34,740 coronavirus cases and 1,062 deaths from the respiratory pandemic have been officially reported in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is on the edge of potential health, social and economic catastrophes caused by Covid-19, as the disease places a crippling burden on one of the 10 most fragile states in the world,” the Red Crescent Society said.

“The real toll of the pandemic on the Afghan population is expected to be much higher and remains under-reported due to limited testing and weak health systems."

Red Crescent secretary general Nilab Mobarez said acute shortages of protective equipment and difficulty in accessing remote regions were hampering its Covid-19 response.

But it was expanding mobile health teams and adding thousands of community volunteers to try to detect and prevent the disease, which it expected to spread in coming weeks.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Health said it was concerned that fewer than a third of those confirmed to have the disease were women, which officials believed was due to a lack of female access to health care in a deeply conservative society.

“The Ministry of Health is concerned about women’s access to health services, especially now that we are at the height of the corona crisis," spokeswoman Masouma Jafari said.

"What we have done is to hire more female staff, and we have separated wards for women in hospitals."

Updated: July 14, 2020 11:31 PM

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