With 145 cases confirmed so far by Afghanistan’s very limited testing facilities, as in other parts of the world, COVID-19 is gradually taking its grip on the country. The outbreak poses a major challenge to a country already struggling with deep seated poverty, long-running conflict and an extremely fragile health system.

The current situation in Afghanistan

Until recently, there was only one hospital in Afghanistan that could properly diagnose the virus, which can only treat 150 patients at a time. There is now an additional laboratory testing capacity available in Herat province which has considerably reduced testing delays. Contact tracing for the people confirmed with COVID-19 is ongoing. There are regional and provincial isolation centres with a total capacity of 991 beds, but many communities are without access to a hospital at all. Inadequate health facilities across the country are not the only issue.

A lack of basic services, such as access to clean water and sanitation, continues to be a serious problem in many areas of the country. Over half the population lives below the poverty line and the spread of the pandemic poses a serious threat to their ability to cope, already the cost of flour and bread has increased dramatically.

The Government of Afghanistan has closed land borders, ordered all schools to stay closed until mid-April; weddings have been banned, and sporting events and public celebrations cancelled.

Earlier this week, a COVID-19 Multi-Sector Humanitarian Country Plan for Afghanistan has been finalised requiring $108.1m to reach 6.1m people with life-saving assistance across all clusters.

Afghanaid’s response

Afghanaid is taking the necessary precautions to protect our staff and the communities we’re serving. We have already implemented a variety of preparatory, containment and control activities in response, and are continuing to monitor the situation closely. Our teams on the ground are disseminating information and advice about hand washing and social distancing in remote areas of the country, and setting up hand washing stations alongside our current work. This includes working with local religious authorities to get health messages distributed as part of the Friday prayers. Moving forward, we will continue to work with partners across the country to deliver assistance and support those who need it.

As of 30 March 735,560 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and 34,800 deaths have been reported across 177 countries and territories. Afghanaid would like to send a message of solidarity to everyone in Afghanistan and the world over at this difficult time, and wishes everyone well. 

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During challenging times, donations from our supporters are an absolutely vital resource for Afghanaid, and will help to ensure we can continue to reach those who need it most.

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