https://afghanistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_st/features/2020/03/20/feature-02
Health |

In photos: Afghanistan prepares to fight coronavirus

By Omar

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A member of the Faqiri Charity Foundation distributes free masks and medical supplies to residents of March 8 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Charities and civil society organisations are providing masks and other medical supplies to help residents control the spread of the disease. [Omar]

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A traffic police officer and a number of Afghans wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Herat city on March 8. [Omar]

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A number of children receive free masks from a member of the Faqiri Charity Foundation in Herat city on March 8. [Omar] 

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A juice maker wears a mask in Herat city on March 8. [Omar]

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A number of Herat money exchangers can be seen in this photo taken March 8 as they wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. [Omar]

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A health worker screens an Afghan returnee from Iran at the Islam Qala border crossing in Herat Province on March 11. Every day 10,000 to 15,000 Afghan immigrants re-enter Afghanistan from Iran, according to Afghan officials. With the spread of the coronavirus in Iran, the Iranian regime has intensified the expulsion of Afghan immigrants. [Omar]

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A health worker screens an Afghan returnee from Iran at the Islam Qala border crossing in Herat Province for the coronavirus on March 11. [Omar]

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Religious scholars in Herat city on March 16 wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Religious scholars and local officials have urged Herat residents to avoid holding large religious ceremonies in order to prevent the spread of the virus. [Omar]

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A volunteer wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant on a bus during a preventive campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in Kabul on March 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

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A volunteer wearing protective gear and a mask sprays disinfectant on vehicles during a preventive campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in Kabul on March 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

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A volunteer wearing a protective suit and a face mask prepares before the start of a preventive campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in Kabul on March 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

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A woman with children wearing face masks as a protective measure against the spread of the coronavirus walk along a street in Kabul on March 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghans are taking steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, joining the rest of the world in battling the disease.

The New Year's festival, Nawruz, which is held every year in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province, and was scheduled to start on March 20, was cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

In addition, health workers have been spraying disinfectant in high-traffic areas in cities such as Kabul and handing out masks to citizens.

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A health worker sprays disinfectant inside Herat's money exchange compound to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 8. [Omar]

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Volunteers distribute brochures with awareness information during a preventive campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in Kabul on March 18. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

In Herat Province, where many Afghan refugees are returning after being forced out of Iran, religious scholars and local officials urged residents to avoid holding large religious ceremonies in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Afghan refugees also are being screened for symptoms of the coronavirus by healthcare workers at the border area with Iran.

Afghanistan's porous borders, a lack of medical facilities, a culture of hand shaking and hugging, and large illiterate populations in urban centres mean containing the outbreak may be a huge challenge.

Health officials have confirmed 24 cases of the novel coronavirus, though only about 300 people have been tested in the country of some 35 million people. In neighbouring Iran, more than 1,000 people have died from the highly contagious virus.

Most of the Afghans who have tested positive for the disease are refugees who have recently been forced to return from various cities in Iran.

Iranian security forces have been rounding up thousands of Afghan refugees suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus and forcibly deporting them to Afghanistan with no regard for international safeguards meant to protect the world from the spread of the deadly pandemic.

Given the explosive outbreak of the coronavirus across Iran, Afghan public health officials have blamed the deportation of Afghan refugees from Iran to Afghanistan at such a critical time for spreading the virus.

About 70,000 Afghans have returned from virus-hit Iran in the past 20 days, overwhelming health workers at border crossings and raising fears of a major outbreak, AFP reported Monday (March 16), citing the International Organisation for Migration.

"The origin of the coronavirus in Afghanistan is Iran," Herat Governor Abdul Qayum Rahimi said at a press conference on March 14.

"All the patients who've been tested positive for the coronavirus and hospitalised have returned from Iran. If the deportation or return of Afghan refugees from Iran continues, it will create a big threat for Afghans," said Rahimi.

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Returning of tens of thousands of refugees from Iran as well as the recklessness and low level of public awareness because of no planning by the government and institutions, it is not unlikely that soon a worse catastrophe than Iran, Italy and Spain will occur in Afghanistan, and kills the remaining population that has escaped unhurt from the war. Therefore, all the people of the country should equip themselves against the Corona disease. It is a human responsibility and a religious obligation to fight against this hidden enemy (Corona-virus). This enemy does not have mercy on anyone and it contaminate and harm the earth, the time, the environment and anything that is living.

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The current situation requires that the investors and businessmen should provide the government and people with financial and technical assistance in order to combat and control the spread of the terrible Corona virus, and efforts should be made to raise as much money and facilities as possible from inside and outside the country. If needed, private health centers, schools, universities and even mosques should be used as treatment and care places for the infected people.

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It is time for the government to decide about quarantining the cities, declaring a state of emergency, and prohibiting commuting. Citizens should stay at their homes in this critical situation, and should avoid strictly from going out and to the overcrowded places.

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The government and the people of Afghanistan have underestimated the corona-virus because very few positive incidents of the disease are reported in this country. But the low incidents rate in the country does not mean lack of infected people or that the virus has not spread or it is being properly managed and controlled, but it is because of lack of facilities and equipped hospitals, lack of clear programs and unified and coordinated networks of the government across the country, lack of diagnostic kits and laboratories, and lack of specialist and sufficient teams.

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Please consider corona virus serious in Afghanistan. God forbid, we all may get lost because of lack of facilities.

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The best way to prevent further spread of the virus is only home quarantine and observing the health recommendations (frequent hands washing with soap ...). Oh God, have mercy on the oppressed, downtrodden and poor people of Afghanistan and save them all from this plague and other disasters and calamities. Amen!

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Although the spread of corona-virus has begun recently in some countries, but its flow of spreading has been faster than anything that one could think about. Despite the measures taken globally to combat the virus, Afghanistan, which is in the midst of political crisis, has not yet taken any serious actions. If no attention of the government, the leaders and the people continues this way, we will soon witness a great catastrophe and massacre of thousands of people throughout the country.

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Because of the rapid spread of the new corona-virus or “COVID-19”, many countries across the world have closed their land and air borders with each other, but Afghanistan still has its borders opened to Iran, a country which is heavily infected with the disease. We strictly ask the Afghan government to close its borders with Iran as soon as possible.

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While health facilities in Afghanistan are said to be zero, but unfortunately, the risks of the Corona-virus spreading among the citizens have not been taken seriously yet.

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The government and the people of Afghanistan have underestimated the corona-virus because very few positive incidents of the disease are reported in this country. But the low incidents rate in the country does not mean the lack of infected people or that the virus has not spread or it is being properly managed and controlled, but it is because of lack of facilities and equipped hospitals, lack of clear programs and unified and coordinated networks of the government across the country, lack of diagnostic kits and laboratories, and lack of specialist and sufficient teams.

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It is a matter of happiness that charity organizations work shoulder by shoulder with the government. All the responsibilities should not be left only to government departments and civilian associations should also take part in such works and give public education to the people. People should also show eagerness to get information because it is responsibility of all not only to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy, but also not to cause loses to others. I have a message to the imams and preachers of the mosques that they should not stay hard as donkeys on their position and not to invite more than 10 people to prayers at once. Islam and Muslims should live a civilized and developed life and not an old thinking style.

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