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Afghanistan Flash Update | COVID-19 | Strategic Situation Report No. 64 | 23 July 2020

Key Messages: UPDATED

  • People confirmed to have COVID-19: 35,928 (as of 2pm, 23 July. Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health - MoPH)
  • Deaths from COVID-19: 1,211
  • Samples tested: 85,413

Key concerns: Border crossing areas, in-country testing capacity, protective equipment for frontline workers, commodity prices, messaging and rumour management

Situation Overview: UPDATED

MoPH data shows that 35,928 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now confirmed to have COVID-19. Some 24,550 people have recovered, and 1,211 people have died (54 of whom are healthcare workers). 85,413 people out of a population of 37.6 million have been tested. Almost 10 per cent of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases are among healthcare staff. The majority of the deaths were people between the ages of 40 and 69. Men in this age group represent more than 52 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Moreover, men account for more than 71 per cent of the total COVID-19 confirmed cases. Due to limited public health resources and testing capacity, as well as the absence of a national death register, confirmed cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are likely to be under reported overall in Afghanistan. Modelling suggests the peak has not yet passed and cases may still accelerate over the coming weeks, creating grave implications for Afghanistan’s economy and people’s well-being. Kabul remains the most affected part of the country in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Hirat, Balkh, Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces.

Hospitals and clinics continue to report challenges maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19. These challenges are related to the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits and medical supplies, as well as the limited number of trained staff – further exacerbated by the number of frontline staff falling ill. Humanitarian partners urge the Government of Afghanistan to ensure healthcare staff have adequate personal protection and to share distribution plans for existing stocks of medical equipment and PPE with humanitarian partners. Current laboratory capacity in Afghanistan remains limited. There continues to be an urgent need for increased laboratory supplies, as well as to strengthen human capacity and operational support.

WHO notes that when health systems are overwhelmed, as is being seen in Afghanistan, both direct mortality from the outbreak and indirect mortality from vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically. WHO stresses the need to balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, with simultaneously engaging in strategic planning and coordinated action to maintain essential health service delivery, mitigating against the risk of system collapse.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
World Health Organization
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Original Publication Date: 
23 Jul 2020
Document type: 
Situation Report
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination