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Red Crescent Warns Of Afghan 'Catastrophes' Due To Pandemic

An Afghan man wearing a face mask walks by a damaged shop after a bomb explosion in Kabul on March 30.
An Afghan man wearing a face mask walks by a damaged shop after a bomb explosion in Kabul on March 30.

The Red Crescent Society says Afghanistan faces "catastrophes" as growing coronavirus cases are pushing hospitals and health clinics in the war-ravaged country "to the limit."

More than 34,700 people have officially been infected by the coronavirus in Afghanistan and over 1,000 people have died from COVID-19, the illness it causes.

"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 Afghan Red Crescent Society said in a statement on July 14.

It said 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."

According to the World Health Organization, Afghanistan has one doctor for every 3,500 inhabitants -- less than a fifth of the global average.

Nilab Mobarez, secretary-general of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, said a "major shortage" of personal protective equipment and difficulties in accessing remote regions were hampering the organization’s coronavirus response.

But he said the Red Crescent Society was expanding mobile health teams and adding thousands of community volunteers to try detect and prevent the disease, which it said it expected to spread over the coming weeks.

"Afghanistan has been reaching a peak of infections, and we fear this will continue over coming weeks. We are urgently scaling up our response with 39 mobile health teams, 31 immunization teams, 46 health clinics, and more than 4,000 trained community volunteers to intensify case detection," Mobarez said.

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