KABUL (Pajhwok): More than 220 Afghans have died from the coronavirus in the past 30 days, showing a three-fold increase over the previous month, says the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
The pandemic, emerging in China’s Wuhan City in 2019, is an infectious disease. The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs sneezes or exhales.
The droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces, according to scientists.
In Afghanistan, the first case of Covid-19 was reported on February 11, 2020 in Herat City. So far, 64,750 people have been infected by the virus, which has caused 2,772 deaths.
Global media reports say 165 million people have been contracted the virus worldwide. So far, 124 million have recovered and 4.3 million died from the disease.
Facts and figures from MoPH indicate that over 2020 died from coronavirus from April 18 to May 18. This toll is three times higher than the previous month.
On the other hand, there has also been an increase in the number of positive cases this month. From March 4 to April 17, 1,649 people tested positive for Covid-19 compared with 5,745 from April 18 to May 18 — 3.5 times higher.
It is worth mentioning that in the past one month daily from 1000 to 3,000 people take their samples for Covid-19 test while one month earlier less than 1,000 people daily took their samples for Covid-19 test to different labs in the country.
This shows surge in the Covid-19 positivity rate recently.
Comparison with neighbours
Afghanistan stands in third category in terms of fatalities from Covid-19 in the region. This is despite that fact that some people believe the Covid-19 impact is less severe in Afghanistan than in other nations in the region.
Afghanistan is behind Iran, Pakistan and Uzbekistan in terms of positive cases, sample tests and death toll. As far as Coivd-19 testing is concerned, Afghanistan stands second.
Afghanistan is third in terms of coronavirus deaths — 2,772 until now. However, both globally and regionally, it has a higher fatality rate — 4.31 percent of registered positive cases.
In terms of the positivity rate among every one million Afghans, the country is at the bottom of the table that also includes Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.
Covid-19: Comparison table
Covid-19 fatalities in Afghanistan and neighboring countries on population bases
Iran: Iran has a population of over 84.9 million. So far more than 2.7 million people in Iran have contracted Covid-19, with 77,000 killed by the disease.
Of every one million people in Iran, over 32,500 people have contracted Covid-19, and over 909 killed by the pandemic.
Pakistan: Of 224.6 million Pakistanis, 880,000 have been infected with Covid-19, leaving nearly 20,000 dead.
In every one million Pakistanis, Pakistan, 3,900 have contracted Covid-19, with 88 losing their lives.
Afghanistan: The Website reporting Covid-19 statistics shows Afghanistan has a population of over 39.6 million people. At least 64,000 of them have so far contracted the virus. The country has reported 2,772 deaths.
In Afghanistan, 1,600 people in every one million are infected with Covid-19 and 69 killed.
Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan has a population of 33.8 million. Of them, 97,000 people have contracted Covid-19. The country has recorded over 679 deaths.
In every one million Uzbeks, more than 2,800 have tested positive for Covid-19. The country has recorded 20 fatalities.
World Covid-19 cases and deaths
The US, India and Brazil are the countries where most people have contracted Covid-19 and died from the pandemic.
US: The United States has a population of 332.7 million. Of them, 33.7 million have contracted the Covid-19 so far while over 600,000 Americans have died of the virus until now.
Of every one million Americans, over 100,000 have contracted the pandemic, while 1,800 have died from the virus.
India: Indian has a population of 1.3 billion. Nearly, 25 million have been infected with Covid-19. Of them, 272,000 people have died.
Of every one million Indians, 18,100 people contacted Covid-19 virus while 200 have died.
Brazil: Brazil has a population of 213.8 million. So far, 15.6 million Brazilians have been infected.
According to global figures, in every one million Brazilians, over 73,000 have contacted the Covid-19 virus and 2,043 hve died.
Positive cases, deaths going up
Senior Health Ministry Advisor Dr. Mohammad Sherzad told Pajhwok Afghan News Covid-19 figures collected by the ministry included only serious patients who visited health centres.
“There is no active surveillance system in Afghanistan to show where the affected person contracted the virus and who the patient met. Therefore, exact figures may be ten times higher than reported by the health ministry,” he continued.
Sherzad linked the growing coronavirus death toll to the lack of public trust in the system, absence of cooperation from the public, non-payment of salaries to workers, non-availability of medicine at health centres, negligence of officials. The health situation has worsened in 29 provinces.
All variants of Covid-19 had spread in the country, confirmed yje official, who urged the ministry to provide more hopsitalisation facilities, ensure oxygen supply, health personnel, protective gear and vaccination.
Dr. Sherzad called upon the people to adhere to health protocols, implement the guidelines disseminated through media and quarantine after testing positive to ensure that the virus did not spread.
Dr. Hashmatullah Faizai, in charge of ICU at the Afghan-Japan Hospital, expressed concern over growing cases of the coronavirus and death toll from the pandemic.
He believed due to public violations of health guidelines, there was a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
“A further increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths is possible in the near future. Earlier, there were two to four deaths from the virus but now the figure has soared to six or seven daily,” he explained.
Dr. Faizi noted due to public negligence there was a surge in positive cases of the coronavirus. If the bad experience of last year’s Eid is repeated, the number of positive cases and deaths will be much higher.
Health experts agree the number of Covid-19 patients and deaths is far higher than MoPH estimates.
Public Health Ministry spokesperson Ghulam Dastagir Nazari said 72 people died from and 1,649 tested positive for Covid-19 from February 4 to March 18. He acknowledged an increase in positive cases.
From April 18 to May 18, he said, 5,745 people tested positive for Covid-19 while 222 patients died from the virus.
Referring to the surge in the death toll from Covid-19, he said: “With the rise in positive cases, fatalities have also gone up.”
He noted Afghanistan was currently going through the third wave of the pandemic, with the positivity rate rising sharply.
Nazari declined commenting when reminded of higher Covid-19 infections and fatalities than reported by the Public Health Ministry.
Najia, a resident of Kabul, expressed concern over the rise in positive cases of Covid-19. She claimed most of the people violated Covid-19 control measures.
“Every day, we hear Covid-19-related news. Reports show a surge in positive cases and deaths from Covid-19. Still, people are unmoved and violate health guidelines that are helpful in controlling the virus.
“My mother is suffering from the heart disease and I fear she may contract Covid-19,” Najia concluded.
“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.”