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10 Million Afghans Estimated To Have Contracted Coronavirus

FILE: Healthcare workers treat a person infected with the coronavirus in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman in June.

Afghanistan’s Health Ministry has estimated that nearly a third of the population -- or 10 million people -- has been infected with the coronavirus.

Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani told reporters on August 5 that the survey was based on antibody tests carried out on around 9,500 people across the country with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The survey estimated that some 31.5 percent of the 32-million population has contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in the capital Kabul where more than half of the city's five million population are believed to have been infected.

Afghanistan, which has poor health infrastructure and has been wracked by decades of war, only has limited testing capacity.

Officially, the country only has 36,829 positive cases and 1,294 deaths as of August 5, although the real numbers are believed to be much higher.

"A second wave of the infection is happening everywhere in the world and we cannot be an exception,” said Osmani. “We will use the findings of this survey to better prepare ourselves for a possible second wave.”

More than 18 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus since it first emerged in China late last year.

The virus entered Afghanistan in February as thousands of migrants and refugees returned from neighboring Iran, one of the region's worst-hit countries.

Osmani said a survey on the mortality rate of the coronavirus in Afghanistan was under way.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

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