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PublishDate: Thursday, June 17, 2021 14:12

Hospitals struggle to cope as third wave hits Afghanistan

The number of COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan has risen dramatically over the past few weeks, with hospitals struggling to deal with the ongoing wave and health officials in almost all provinces sounding the alarm.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_According to Afghanistan’s Public Health Ministry, more than 3,800 people have died of #COVID-19 as of June 16, but experts say the actual number is much higher because of the low testing rate. Also, many COVID deaths are not being registered as virus-related fatalities.

Government has closed schools, universities, wedding halls and beauty salons to to try slow the spread but these measures have not proven effective so far – as other places where the virus can spread rapidly such as markets remain open to the public.

Most people are not wearing masks nor following health protocols because government has not made it mandatory.

The vaccination rate is also very low in Afghanistan and althouth there are an estimated 36 million people, only one million doses of COVID vaccine, mostly to front-line health workers and members of the security forces, have been administered.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle this week doctors in one of Kabul’s two main hospitals said there aren’t enough beds to treat new COVID-19 patients.

“We have 150 beds but somehow managed to admit 170 patients. The number of COVID patients coming here is increasing, but we don’t have beds or oxygen to help them,” Tariq Akbari, head of the Afghan Japan Hospital in Kabul, told DW.

“At the moment, we can provide oxygen to only 30 patients. We are trying to attach the oxygen supply system to other beds, but it will take some time,” he added.

As most hospitals in Afghanistan are not equipped to treat COVID-19 patients, people infected with the virus are forced to seek help from smaller clinics.

“I contracted the coronavirus, but the hospital staff told me they do not have enough beds,” Abdullah, a resident of Herat province, told DW.

“This wave is deadlier. We believe it is the #Indian-origin_delta variant that spreads faster,” Akbari told DW, adding that an average of 14 daily deaths are being recorded in his hospital.

Deutsche Welle reported that even though a huge #health_crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, there hasn’t been much coverage of it in the international media.

Afghans, however, continue to share pictures and videos of COVID-19 patients on social media, which illustrate a dire situation.

“Everyone knows someone who has died of COVID. I used Facebook to have a good time in the past, but now it has become too depressing, with almost everyone posting about COVID-related deaths,” Mehrabuddin Hakimi, a Kunduz resident said.

“People cannot keep distance from COVID patients. They need to take care of them, and because they are not health professionals, they end up getting the virus, too,” #Hakimi said.

Despite assurances of financial support from the international community, there are not enough testing kits and medical equipment to treat everyone in Afghanistan, DW reported, adding that experts say Afghanistan needs immediate international help to deal with the virus.

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