Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the President of neighboring Turkmenistan has ordered the country’s ministry of health to send COVID-19 test kits as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Turkmen TV reported the president also ordered the Foreign Ministry to deliver the tests to Afghanistan.
This comes after repeated reports that point towards the limited testing facilities and the fragile health system in the country.
Just this week, the World Bank fast-tracked additional grants to Afghanistan to help desperate families and ensure food security.
On Wednesday however, the Ministry of Public Health released details of an official survey conducted with the help of the World Health Organization that found the coronavirus has likely infected a third of the country’s population – roughly 10 million people.
The Afghan health ministry released the estimates Wednesday, saying they are based on antibody tests on about 9,500 people in 34 provinces.
Acting Health Minister, Ahmad Jawad Osmani told a news conference in Kabul the survey showed 31.5 percent of Afghanistan’s population has been infected by COVID-19.
Osmani noted that 53 percent of Kabul’s nearly five million residents had contracted the coronavirus.
Officially, the number of cases reported on Thursday stood at just 36,937.
Last month, the International Federation of Red Cross warned: “Afghanistan is on the edge of potential health, social and economic catastrophes caused by COVID-19 as the disease places a crippling burden on one of the 10 most fragile states in the world.”
“The real toll of the pandemic on the Afghan population is expected to be much higher and remains under-reported due to limited testing and weak health systems,” it added.
India’s COVID-19 tally surges past 5.4 million mark
India’s COVID-19 infection tally has surged past the 5.4 million mark after adding 92,605 cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry stated Sunday.
Every day, since August, the country has recorded the highest single-day caseload in the world.
According to the health ministry, 1,113 people died of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 86,752.
Infection is surging through the country on a “step-ladder spiral” a government scientist told BBC.
It took India 170 days to reach the first million cases but only 11 days to reach the last million.
More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily, BBC reported but stated the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.
According to the report, epidemiologists have said that India’s real infection rates are far higher.
The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimated 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 at that time.
India’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to surge, over 5 million cases reported
India reported another record jump in daily coronavirus cases on Thursday with 97,894 new infections in the last 24 hours, after its caseload surged past the five million mark a day earlier, data from the health ministry showed.
Deaths also increased, with the country recording more than 1,000 deaths every day for the last two weeks.
Coronavirus infections in India surged past five million on Wednesday, with one million active cases reported.
India’s caseload is closing in on the US, which has reported more than 6.6 million cases and with the infection rate continuing as it is, health officials have warned that it could take just weeks for India to surpass the US.
In the initial stages of Covid-19, India imposed a strict lockdown, but the virus then hit cities like Mumbai and the capital, Delhi, before surging in smaller cities and rural areas.
Despite the increase, the Indian government has eased restrictions to help the economy recover from the March to June lockdown.
But as India opened up and people returned to work, the caseload increased drastically.
In one week alone – last week – 600,000 new cases were added.
India’s reported number of cases is now more than 5,020,359.
Korea pledges $1m to help Afghanistan tackle pandemic
The South Korean embassy in Kabul signed a US$1 million grant with the World Health Organization (WHO) this week to assist in efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan.
According to WHO, the organization will receive funding to implement the “Strengthening access to quality health care in the most vulnerable population in Afghanistan” project, over a six-month period.
In a joint statement issued by the organizations, WHO said the project is expected to bolster efforts to increase COVID-19 testing across the country through the provision of specimen collection kits for 15 rapid response teams (RRTs), which will enable sample collection from 40,500 people; provision of diagnostic kits to the Ministry of Public Health to cover testing for 50,000 people, and provision of testing consumables for RRTs and laboratory technicians across the country to cover testing needs for at least 10,520 people.
“The project will also play a critical role in improving awareness about COVID-19 through community-based engagement, targeting 314,900 people across priority regions of the country and building field teams’ capacity to better engage and communicate with communities.” the statement read.
The grant arrangement was signed by the Korean ambassador Zha Hyoung Rhee, and Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Representative for Afghanistan.
Both parties to the agreement emphasized the importance of continued support from the international community to help Afghanistan in its fight against COVID-19.
“While the pandemic does not respect borders when it comes to its negative impacts, there is no denying that those countries which lack in medical infrastructure are more vulnerable,” said Rhee.
“Considering Korea’s experiences, 3Ts, i.e., testing, tracking, and treatment constitute the major components of an effective response to the pandemic. I sincerely hope that the support from Korea, especially regarding the earliest stage of those response activities, will help mitigate, to a considerable extent, the impact of the pandemic which has been inflicting enormous damage not only on the already dire humanitarian situation but also on the essential socio-economic fabric of Afghanistan,” Rhee added.
More than six months since the onset of the COVID-19 emergency in Afghanistan, cases continue to rise but severe testing restrictions have plagued the country, which already has a fragile health care system.
As of Monday, 38,772 confirmed cases and 1,425 deaths had been reported.
Peeperkorn in turn said: “The crisis is far from over.”
He noted the country had gone through a substantial first wave but that everyone needs to be prepared for secondary spikes.
While Afghanistan’s official COVID-19 toll stands at close to 40,000, the Afghan Health Ministry and WHO stated early last month that they estimate nearly a third of the population – about 10 million people – had already been infected.
Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani told reporters on August 5 that a survey had been carried out and had been based on antibody tests.
The survey estimated that about 31.5 percent of the population of 32 million had contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in the capital, Kabul where more than half of the city’s five million people are believed to have been infected.
Afghanistan, which has poor health infrastructure and has been wracked by decades of war, has only limited testing capacity.
But the new “Strengthening access to quality health care in the most vulnerable population in Afghanistan” project is a part of the COVID-19 ONE UN Health Response Plan and is aligned with the overall support that WHO is providing to Afghanistan to address needs related to COVID-19.
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