Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
More than a third of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Afghan capital have been among doctors and other healthcare staff, two senior health officials said, in a sign that the country is struggling to deal with the pandemic.
The officials cited a lack of protective equipment for medics as well as a lack of awareness among some medical staff of the precautions needed to avoid infection.
The high rate of infection among healthcare workers has sparked alarm among medics and some doctors have closed their clinics.
However, it is not clear whether the apparently disproportionate rate of infection might be at least in part because medical staff are more likely to be tested for the illness. Few people with the classic COVID-19 symptoms of high fever and respiratory problems are being tested in Afghanistan, because of a shortage of testing kits.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) has launched a distance learning website for school students, an alternative plan for education service delivery during the coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan.
MoE cited that it has launched the online education services as the lockdown continues across the country.
According to this plan, a series of preparations have been made. The school’s subjects are divided into two sections: social sciences and science. Social sciences from grades 7 to 12 are self-taught and its guidelines have been prepared and will be announced soon.
The plan is prepared only for those students who have access to the Internet, but the rest of the students would attend classes after considering precautions to prevent contracting with the virus, the ministry noted “Education TV in 17 studios records up to 90 lessons a day in Persian and Pashto.
The World Bank on Friday approved a USD 400 million grant to help Afghanistan “sustain the pace of key economic and public finance reforms and support the country to manage current risks and uncertainties compounded by the COVID-19 crisis.”
“The Incentive Program Development Policy Grant comprises USD 160 million from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries and USD240 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors,” the bank said in a statement.
According to the statement, the Incentive Program Development Policy Grant will support a range of key reforms to improve business regulation and encourage private investment, expand social inclusion and support civil service reforms, increase resilience to natural disasters, improve tax administration and public financial management, and safeguard fiscal sustainability.
“Today’s Board approval is a strong indication that the World Bank is redoubling its efforts to help Afghanistan and its people beyond the current COVID-19 crisis,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.
“This assistance will help Afghanistan maintain its reform momentum throughout a difficult period and provide vital financial support to the government to manage revenue shortfalls arising from coronavirus impacts,” said Kerali.
The Kabul Police arrested Shakila Ibrahim, the owner of a restaurant, who had threatened the journalists, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said.
Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said the police forces arrested Shakila Ibrahim, the owner of Kabul 7 Star Restaurant for violating COVID-19 restrictions and threatening the journalists.
Arian further added that the case of Shakila will soon be transferred to Attorney General’s Office.
Shakila had earlier posted a statement online claiming that the reporters of a television started filming her restaurant and taking pictures of her and her family without prior coordination with her or with the administration of the restaurant.
The Afghan Minister of Public Health, Firuzuddin Firuz has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Public Health, Wahidullah Mayar has confirmed the Minister’s test result on Thursday night.
According to the health authorities, the health minister is now self-isolating and is in quarantine.
This comes as the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches 3,563 with 106 death toll and 467 recovered patients.
India has sent its first wheat consignment weighing 5,000 tons to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port, managing director of Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Department said on Thursday.
Speaking to IRNA, Behrouz Aqaie said that efforts have been made for sending the consignment continuously and in short time to Afghanistan.
He added that the shipment is supposed to be sent through Chabahar Port.
The first part of humanitarian aid consignment of India to people of Afghanistan was also sent through Chabahar Port on April 15.
He noted that the consignment including 203 containers entered Chabahar Port and was immediately loaded by modern equipment.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has announced that 171 new cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the country during the past 24 hours.
The deputy of MoPH, Wahid Majroh in a press conference said that with the registration of the new cases, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reaches 3,563.
According to Majroh, two patients infected with the coronavirus have died during the last 24 hours which the death toll rises to 106 in the country.
In the meantime, 468 patients have been recovered from the coronavirus so far.
The health authorities say 65 new cases of the coronavirus were registered in the provinces of Herat and Paktia during the past 24 hours.
The spokesman of Herat Public Health Department, Muhammad Rafiq Sherzai said that 45 new cases of the coronavirus including 31 men and 14 women were registered in the province during the past 24 hours.
According to Sherzai, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in the province reached 707 which 19 patients have died and 168 others have been recovered.
The Public Health department of Paktia also said 20 new cases of the coronavirus were registered in the province during the past 24 hours.
According to the health department, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Paktia reaches 175 among which 15 of them have been recovered.
One-third of 500 random coronavirus tests in Kabul came back positive, health officials have previously announced, raising fears of widespread undetected infections in one of the world’s most fragile nations.
Kabul and most other cities are in lockdown, but compliance has not been widespread.
More than 250,000 Afghans returned home from hard-hit Iran since the beginning of the year, travelling across Afghanistan without being tested or quarantined.
In Afghanistan, the coronavirus has opened a new front for the country’s healthcare system, already devastated by 40 years of civil war.
The virus has infected nearly 300 healthcare workers in the country, and at least five doctors have died.
The peak of the pandemic is expected in mid-May, with some figures suggesting 25 million Afghanis could soon be infected.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases suggests that Afghanistan could have one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the world, a global migration organisation has warned, voicing concern that the expansion of conflict in the war-torn country is exacerbating the disease response.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the number of confirmed cases suggests that Afghanistan could have one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the world.
“Furthermore in recent days, results of a randomised sample of 500 persons in Kabul, a city of between five and seven million people, showed an alarming infection rate of 50 per cent,” it has said in a statement.
The global agency also warned that Afghanistan is struggling to safely absorb the more than 271,000 people who have returned from Iran and Pakistan since January amidst the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that Afghan refugee returns from Iran and Pakistan are suspended due to COVID-19 precautionary measures.