Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Just a few weeks ago, Marzia Sikandar served burgers and rice from her solar-powered mobile cart in Kabul, but now, wearing a protective suit, she distributes masks and offers free soap and water in the Afghan capital to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
As per Reuters, her converted carbon-neutral rickshaw is one of around 40 owned by social enterprise Banu’s Kitchen which had until recently employed women to sell food and support their families in Afghanistan’s conservative society, but has now been transformed into mobile sanitising stations in a country where many are without running water or easy access to health services.
“Of course I’m so worried about this virus, especially when I’m outside and when I get back home, I’m afraid that the virus will spread to my children, though I take precautions. But I’m delighted that I can help my compatriots and the country,” said Sikandar, 45, who distributes up to 70 masks a day.
Afghanistan’s total number of coronavirus cases reaches 1330 on Friday with 40 deaths, and officials and experts have cautioned the number could rise far higher given limited testing and the country’s weak health infrastructure.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has said that the government is planning to bring systematic change to a number of hospitals in Kabul where COVID-19 patients are getting medical treatment, including the Afghan-Japan hospital.
“A lot of changes have been made, but these changes are not sufficient; we will make the Afghan-Japan hospital the best hospital, we also plan to prepare Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Zayed hospitals for the COVID-19 patients,” said Wahid Majroh, the deputy Minister of Health for public health services.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches 1330.
In an effort to aid Afghanistan at the time of the COVID-19 crisis, the Pakistan’s Zalmi foundation donated coronavirus protective gear to the country in a bid to help it combat the pandemic which has killed more than 177,000 across the globe.
“Zalmi Foundation Chairperson, Javed Afridi, has handed over 50,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits to an envoy at the Afghanistan embassy,” read a statement from Zalmi Foundation.
Urging the need for mutual cooperation between the two countries to fight the pandemic, Afridi said: “The government of Pakistan and the premier wish to foster healthy relations with neighbouring countries […] We [Zalmi foundation] will try to keep providing aid to Afghanistan.”