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Editorial: Coronavirus and Afghanistan

Covid-19 cases in Afghanistan is pigmenting toward a slight spike in the recent week with 166 fresh cases on Tuesday and three deaths and 146 cases on Wednesday with four deaths. Afghanistan has taken many measures to combat the virus, but it also faces with abundance challenges, many of which fall into areas, prevention – diagnosis – and treatment. Compulsory quarantine in big cities was initiated months ago during initial days when first infection was registered in Herat province. Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif and other provinces were put in traffic restriction and highways leading to provincial centers were also tightened. Afghan health and security officials were alert all the time to monitor the situation. Gradually, the Afghan people found themselves to fiddle with the virus, and poverty forced them to violate quarantine rules and took out to work to take bread home for the kids. As over 70 percent of Afghans are under the poverty line, dying as a result of starvation was a more serious threat than covid-19 itself – a disease many Afghans take it as simple as a small flu. Daily wagers were in panic as they were losing jobs and could die of anger before the outbreak further escalated. The government program of providing cash and noncash aid to vulnerable and low-income individuals were also marred with massive corruption. Nevertheless, the virus seemed to make a comeback. Apparently the second wave is already in. Afghanistan has 42,609 confirmed cases thus far with total reported deaths is 1,581 and recoveries is 34,967. The number of deaths from COVID-19 globally is more than 1,272,911 and the number of known global coronavirus cases is 51,480,441. Hopefully, the vaccine is out and proved effective, but likely it takes much time to reach Afghanistan. We have to be taking care of ourselves and our family members by following advice of the health officials. Unfortunately, the Afghan people are not following the guidelines as described by the World Health Organization and Afghan Health Ministry. Rarely, people are putting masks in the public – we don’t observe social distancing in wedding halls and mourning ceremonies and more dangerously, we are yet to avoid going to crowded places and areas. We almost forget to adhere with frequent washing hands with soap and hot water. Failure to follow the health guidelines on the one hand, and the winter season with its harsh cold weather on the other, could make things very bad for the Afghans. This virus regains and becomes much stronger in the winter time and if we do not take the precautionary measures, many more lives could be lost to the virus due our own mistake.

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