KABUL: Afghanistan is on the brink of a new disaster that the already long-suffering Afghan people cannot afford. Coronavirus threatens to topple the country, if Afghans don’t begin to heed the advice of officials regarding the spread of Coronavirus. Key concerns are the disregard for new social distancing regulations, and the already fragile healthcare system, which may become more strained as cases increase.
According to the Ministry of Health’s estimation, 25.6 million Afghans may become infected with the virus. Unless serious actions are taken to stem the spread of Coronavirus, estimations suggest that up to 110,000 Afghans could potentially die from the virus.
The figure of 110,000 fatalities is an estimation formed from the examination of the current data. The actual death rate may be higher or lower than this estimate. However, the spread of Coronavirus can be contained, and the death toll minimised, if Afghans follow the instructions provided by the Ministry Public of Health.
Kabul, a city with at least six million residents, has been subjected to strict quarantining rules. Unfortunately, the streets are still full of people who are defying the advice issued by the Ministry of Health. Kabul residents who ignore the quarantine rules risk subjecting their family members to the potentially fatal virus. For the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems, this exposure could be deadly. However, anybody can become infected with Coronavirus and nobody is immune.
The global Coronavirus death toll is 34,018 to date. There have been four Coronavirus-related deaths in Afghanistan to date, however nearly 150 other people are infected with the virus. Until now, many Afghans have underestimated the seriousness of the issue. However, as positive cases in Afghanistan increase, the containment of the virus requires a coordinated response from all members of the public.
Even doctors are not immune to Coronavirus. Three Afghan doctors and 13 medical staff members have been infected with Coronavirus at Herat Hospital in western Afghanistan.
Herat, the epicentre of the virus in Afghanistan, has the highest number of cases. It was also the first city to go into lockdown, as officials scrambled to contain the virus. Over 100 cases have been recorded in Herat, as well as four deaths.
Public Health Minister, Ferozuddin Feroz, criticized the government for not taking the rapid spread of Coronavirus seriously. “The speed of bureaucracy in government departments is slower than the spread of the virus,” he said.
Mr. Feroz emphasized that the government response to the Coronavirus outbreak must be faster than the rate of contamination. Mr. Feroz called on everyone, including general members of the public, to fight against the virus by listening to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and taking appropriate cautions.
The only way to stay safe from Coronavirus is to observe the advice of officials. Observing social distancing regulations, washing hands frequently throughout the day (20 or 30 times a day) and avoiding gatherings of two or more people is the best way to stay safe and minimise risk to yourself and your loved ones.