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Afghanistan Flash Update | COVID-19 | Strategic Situation Report No. 73 | 3 September 2020

Key Messages: UPDATED

  • People confirmed to have COVID-19: 38,288 (as of 2pm, 3 September. Source: Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health - MoPH)
  • Deaths from COVID-19: 1,410
  • Samples tested: 103,722

Key concerns: Border crossing areas, in-country testing capacity, protective equipment for frontline workers, maintaining essential health services, public complacency, sustained prevention and mitigation measures, messaging and rumour management

Situation Overview: UPDATED

MoPH data shows that 38,288 people across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are now confirmed to have COVID-19. Some 29,390 people have recovered, and 1,410 people have died (72 of whom are healthcare workers). 103,722 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 50 and 79. Men in this age group represent 50 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Moreover, men account for 70 per cent of the total COVID-19 confirmed cases although this may be the result of over-representation of men in testing. 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 under-reported overall in Afghanistan. Kabul remains the most affected part of the country in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Hirat, Balkh, Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces.

Complacency and failure to follow public health advice is creating grave risks in the community, with people generally not observing physical distancing protocols. Recent conflict in the north-east and flooding in the centre and east of the country has affected and displaced thousands of households. Compliance with COVID-19 preventative measures is challenging for the majority of those affected, exposing them to heightened risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission. Risk communications messaging to these groups is critical.

As part of the flood response in the north-east, a WHO team travelled to Kunduz to support to the local Emergency Preparedness Response Committee. A surveillance team is in place at displacement sites and has so far identified 48 people with COVID-19 symptoms who have been referred for medical care. No positive COVID-19 cases have been identified in informal settings. The WHO team also assisted with the provision of PPE to NGOs. Moreover, NGOs operating in Kunduz disseminated risk communication messages in newly displaced settlements and carried out community engagement activities to women, people living with disability and other vulnerable groups. Additionally, rumour tracking has been ongoing in informal settlements in the area.

Hospitals and clinics continue to report challenges maintaining or expanding their facilities’ capacity to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as maintaining essential health services. In Afghanistan, there has been a general decrease of 30 to 40 per cent in the utilization of essential health services. Moreover, mobile health team consultations have increased by 83 per cent between April to July compared to the same period last year. WHO emphasise that infection prevention and control need to be improved in health facilities to encourage people to return to health services safely.

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