Kabul: The Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday handed over Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to Afghanistan to combat Covid-19. The NDMA said that on behalf of the government of Pakistan, PPE kits and medical equipment have been handed over to the Ambassador of Afghanistan.
The items included 500 oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, ICU ventilators, BIPAPs, digital X-Ray machines, thermal guns and PPEs kits. In fact, Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan are getting the coronavirus vaccination and so far, around 1,500 people have taken the jab. UNHCR’s spokesman Qaiser Afridi said that the government was providing vaccination facilities to all refugees and Afghan citizens who are registered with the database system of NADRA.
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The much-needed healthcare items arrived in Kabul even as the Ministry of Public Health reported 2,313 new positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and 101 deaths in the past 24 hours. This is the first time that the official death toll has crossed 100 over the 24 hours. The total positive cases now stand at 98,844, while the reported death toll is 3,943. In fact, the Kabul Municipality announced that it will temporarily stop its city buses in Kart-e Naw and Ahmad Shah Baba Mina areas of Kabul city, effective from June 19, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The municipality administration stated that the bus service will resume across Kabul city, after the COVID-19 problem is resolved. The Municipality urged the minivans to reduce the number of passengers, to combat COVID-19. It also called on citizens to observe social distancing and healthcare instructions.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Red Crescent Society said that the COVID-19 cases have reached a crisis point as infections and deaths are spiralling out of control, threatening to engulf the country’s fragile health system, as a consequence of decades of armed conflict, and compounding disasters.
Hospital beds are full in many areas across the country and oxygen supplies cannot keep up, the society noted. Dr Nilab Mobarez, Acting President of Afghan Red Crescent Society said, “Afghanistan is at a crisis point in the battle to contain COVID-19 as hospital beds are full to capacity in the capital Kabul and in many areas. This surge is fast spiralling out of control adding huge pressures on our fragile health system and millions of people living in poverty. Thousands of trained Red Crescent volunteers are risking their lives to help infected people with urgent medical care and to enhance prevention measures. We fear that we are just a heartbeat away from the kind of horror that we have already seen in countries like India and Nepal.”
The Afghan Red Crescent Society is running 140 healthcare facilities, including a 50-bed COVID-19 hospital in Kabul and 70 mobile health teams. Volunteers have screened more than 650,000 people for the disease.
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In rural areas many people have difficulty accessing medical care, safe water, hygiene supplies or accurate information about the virus and how to prevent it.
Necephor Mghendi, head of Afghanistan Country Delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said, “COVID-19 is another cruel blow for millions of Afghans already dealing with the constant threat of violence, displacement, food insecurity and poverty. We’re seeing large numbers of people having to make terrible choices between finding a way to feed their families and growing risks of getting sick. IFRC is working with the Afghan Red Crescent to urgently deliver more medical equipment, including an oxygen generation plant for its COVID-19 hospital in Kabul. More international support is needed to help win this race against this virus, so we can save thousands of lives.”
The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with only around 40% of funding requirements for Afghanistan covered so far. The global emergency appeal funds are crucial to continue supporting the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.