KABUL (Pajhwok): Health professionals say they are concerned about children and teenagers being infected with a new type of Covid-19 and ask the government to consider health guidelines in educational centers in the new academic year.
The virus first emerged in Wuhan province of China in November in 2019 but it rapidly spread too many other countries including Afghanistan.
Internal medicine professor and heart, respiration and intensive care specialist in Kabul Rabia Balkhi Hospital, Nabil Paktin, told Pajhwok Afghan News that many youths and children contracted a new type of Covid-19 while the first wave of the virus mostly targeted elderly people.
He said that a limited number of youths and children could be infected with the virus in its first wave due to their strong immunity system or they had a few signs of infection compared to elderly people who showed clear signs of infection.
Researches show that viral load is same both in children and elders but clear signs of the virus in elders and unclear signs in children has been the difference among the two, he said.
“New researches show families that contracted the virus in its first wave, their generation that comes is highly vulnerable to the disease and the virus is most probably transmitted to healthy people in educational centers,” he said.
However, he said that the cases of new type of the virus seen in England, Africa and Brazil were limited and there are still no reports of severe infections or high death rates, but the virus’s spread is faster in the new generation.
Paktin said the new variant of the disease was not much deadly but it’s main target was vulnerable people.
Pointing to the arrival of new academic year, he asked educational institutes to observe health guidelines such as social distance, using mask and washing hands.
Dr. Hashmatullah Faizi, an ICU professional in Afghan Japan Hospital in Kabul, said that most Covid-19 patients during the first wave encountered little shortness of breath but more cough, sore throat, flu and diarrhea.
However, he said that the second wave of the virus caused high shortness of breath among the infected people.
About the new type of the virus, he said that youths and children were the main target of the disease.
“We had two cases in the second wave of the virus in younger age people, it can be a warning for Afghanistan, but the second wave of Covid-19 is generally in control,” he added.
He said, “The first wave of Covid-19 mostly targeted people above the age of 20, but no one was hospitalized, however recently people of ages from 16 to 20 years are also hospitalized in the second wave, it is an alarm for Afghanistan.”
Despite being under control, the second wave could speed if people do not follow health guidelines, he said.
He added that a large number of students would probably be infected by the virus if health guidelines were not followed in educational centers in the new academic year.
This comes as the Cabinet approved the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) plan including health guidelines for educational centers during the first wave of the virus.
Based on MoPH guidelines, all government and private schools should enforce use of masks, gloves and sanitation for students and teachers.
Public health officials say that Ministry of Education and MoPH has appointed monitoring teams to regularly check school activities according to the health guidelines.
Masuma Jaafari, spokesman of MoPH, had previously said that the ministry provided a special health team to the Ministry of Education to prevent spread of the virus among school students.
She said that educational centers should strictly follow the guidelines in the beginning of new academic year.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Afghanistan has registered 55,420 positive cases while more than 48,130 others have recovered and 2,419 others died. The real number of deaths and cases are probably higher than the official figures.
“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.”