Afghanistan warns of ‘disaster’ as coronavirus infections surge

Afghan health authorities reported 761 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. Above, workers make protective face masks at a factory in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 06 June 2020

Afghanistan warns of ‘disaster’ as coronavirus infections surge

  • Afghan health authorities reported 761 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours

KABUL: Afghanistan is running out of hospital beds as suspected cases of coronavirus surge, officials said on Saturday, warning “there is a disaster coming” in the impoverished country.
Afghan health authorities reported 761 new positive cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 19,551.
“Our (hospital) beds are almost full, we won’t have any more capacity very soon,” Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani told reporters.
Officials said the number of cases were more than expected, including in the capital Kabul, the epicenter of the disease.
“There is a disaster coming,” said Kabul governor Mohammad Yakub Haidary at a joint press conference with the health minister.
He said in Kabul alone there could be a million people infected with the deadly virus.
So far there have been 327 confirmed deaths in the country.
“We have reports of increasing suspected deaths, people burying dead bodies at night,” Haidary said.
“We fill 10-15 ambulances of dead people every day.”
The virus’s spread has surged amid a nationwide lockdown that residents have largely ignored, with many daily wage earners taking their chances with the disease rather than lose a day’s work.
But the minister said that from Sunday the authorities will strictly impose measures like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing for the next three months in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Experts say that Afghanistan is able to test only about 20 percent of its daily suspected coronavirus cases.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a statement Tuesday that “between 80 to 90 percent of potential cases are not being tested,” citing figures provided to them by the health ministry which said between 10,000 and 20,000 samples were being received per day.
The charity warned that Afghanistan was on the brink of a health crisis after confirmed cases spiked by 684 percent in May.
Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of tests coming back positive — about 40 percent — the IRC said, indicating high levels of undetected infections.
The spike in cases came after Afghanistan grappled with rising violence in recent months that diverted vital attention and resources away from the fight against the disease.
The country’s few hospitals focus mainly on basic care and trauma wounds and lack the expertise and equipment needed to deal with infectious diseases.

Related


Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

Updated 12 August 2020

Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

  • Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels
  • The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised

Stonehaven, UK: Three people died when a passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland on Wednesday, police said, in what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described as "an extremely serious incident".
"Very sadly despite the best efforts of paramedics, we can confirm that three people have been pronounced dead at the scene," British Transport Police said in a statement.
The crash, close to the town of Stonehaven around 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Aberdeen, followed severe flooding across parts of the region overnight.
Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels.
"The emergency services are currently on site and a major incident has been declared," Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
"I am afraid to say that there are early reports of serious injuries," she added, after earlier noting on Twitter it was an "extremely serious incident".
The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised, although none of their injuries are though to be serious.
Some 30 emergency vehicles were attending the scene of the derailment which happened at 9:40am (08:40 GMT).
Union TSSA said the train was the 06:38 (05:38 GMT) service travelling from Aberdeen to Glasgow.
Sturgeon added that the incident happened in an area where it was difficult for emergency services to access.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene."
Thunderstorms and torrential rain battered parts of central and eastern Scotland overnight, creating hazardous travelling conditions.
Photos posted on social media by local authorities showed heavy flooding in the nearby town of Stonehaven early Wednesday.
Network Rail Scotland, the company which looks after the rail infrastructure, said it was working alongside emergency services.
"It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known," it said.
Moments after the emergency services had been notified of the accident, Network Rail reported there had been a landslip close by.
The local arm of Britain's National Health Service said it was setting up "major incident support" in Aberdeen for relatives and friends of anyone involved in the incident.
The BBC reported that one casualty was airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.
Local MP Andrew Bowie said a "major emergency service response" was underway and he had spoken to the British transport minister, Grant Shapps, about the incident.
Shapps added on Twitter that he was in touch with Network Rail and other agencies and vowed "the UK Government will provide every support".
Britain's last major rail derailment was in 2007 in Cumbria, in northwest England, when a train on the main west coast line left the tracks, killing one passenger and seriously injuring 30 others.