HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): Forty to 50 percent students in western Herat province have contracted coronavirus, a Public Health Department inspection team says.
The first positive coronavirus case was detected in Herat province on February 24 this year and since 13,933 people underwent tests and 6,702 of them tested positive.
So far 250 people in Herat have lost their lives while 6,028 have recovered from the infection.
Meanwhile, local health officials claim 40 to 50 percent students in the province have contracted coronavirus.
Positive coronavirus cases on rise in Herat: Sherzai
Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesperson for the Herat Public Health Department, said an inspection team of the department took blood samples from 350 boys and girl students and 153 students were tested positive. He said health condition of the students who tested positive was stable.
Sharzai expressed concern over the increasing number of students contracting coronavirus and stressed over compliance to health guidelines in schools.
He said the second wave of coronavirus in Herat has not begun, adding that current cases were the continuation of the first wave. He said daily 500 to 700 people were tested for coronavirus in the province.
Increasing coronavirus cases worry teachers, students
Suraya Sarwari, a teacher at the Sardar Mohammad Dawod Khan Shaheed’s school in Herat City, said the surge in positive coronavirus cases was worrying. She told Pajhwok Afghan News in their school alone 16 teachers and the school principal had tested positive for coronavirus.
She said every sample taken from student or teacher of her school was positive. According to Sarwar, the school lacked teachers after some teachers who tested positive were quarantined. She said most of students were worried about their future due to the lack of teachers.
Nargis, 15, one of students in Herat City, said she was tested positive but she felt fine and there were no signs of coronavirus in her.
She said most of her classmates did not use masks, asking students’ parents to make sure that their children wore masks while leaving home for school.
Health experts: We must learn to live with coronavirus
A number of health professionals and civil society activists expressed their concern about the high number of schoolchildren infected with Covid-19 in Herat and stressed that the government and health professionals must take basic steps to prevent the virus from spreading in educational institutions.
Dr.Fazal Faiz, infectious diseases specialist in Herat, expressed his deep concern over the 50 percent students’ infection and most of these students may not have the pandemic signs but they were healthy carriers.
He stressed if students did not follow health guidelines they might transfer the virus to elderly people.
He added a decision must be taken throughout the country and a fundamental solution must be also considered to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through schools.
He also emphasized that closing of schools would not be a suitable solution and the basic solution should be serious implementation of health guidelines in schools and educational places.
Abdullah Azizi, a civil society activist in Herat city, also stressed on the need of following health guidelines at educational institutions.
He said, “We should not scare people more, we should learn to live with the virus. According to predictions, the corona may not be eliminated from the world for several years; so we should not be afraid.”
He urged the government particularly the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to provide further health facilities at schools in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that quarantining and closing schools was not the solution because it could produce terrible economic consequences in the country.
It comes as the MoPH said in a statement that wearing masks was mandatory in government administrations.
Government officials’ views in this regard:
Wahidullah Majrooh, deputy minister of public health, told Pajhwok that coronavirus was still not a serious of risk in Herat.
According to him, educational activities in schools and universities continued with observance of hygienic measures, especially wearing face masks, social distancing and hand washing.
He added after this, is it will obligatory for students to wear masks in schools and universities, and if students do not have masks, they will not be allowed to enter schools.
He said we should not be worried about the increase in Covid-19 positive cases in Herat, saying that the number of those infected increased because their tests were not performed in laboratory for several days and were performed all at once.
He further added inspection teams had been increased in universities and schools and any class of a school or university where students were diagnosed with the virus will be quarantined for 14 days.
He said recently the number of infected women increased in Herat because they attended wedding parties.
Pajhwok tried to contact the provincial education director for comment, but a failed.
Meanwhile, Akmal Samsor, MoPH spokesman, also said it was now obligatory to wear masks in public and private offices.
According to him, the plan to wear mask mandatory in public and private offices was submitted to the government by the Ministry of Health last week, and the Cabinet has approved the plan.
According to the plan, visitors to government offices must also wear masks, he said.
The plan clearly says those not wearing masks should not be allowed to enter the offices.
He said the use of mask is also mandatory for doctors and health workers, and that all doctors and health workers should use masks in health centers to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
“This Investigative Report was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Pajhwok and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”