Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, April 4th, 2020

COVID-19 Likely to Take Large Toll on Afghans

As Afghanistan waits for the coronavirus disease to peak in the coming weeks, the horrible consequences are predictable. Afghans have started to empty out stores and supermarkets as they hoard up on essential commodities, waiting for the worse to happen.
No provisions have been made for workers and government staff to work from home. Only basic facilities such as hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves are provided for some staff to use in offices. No other policies to protect employees has been put in place.
Public places, where people can converge in large numbers, are open and ordinary people are busy with their daily chores without observing precautionary measures. Worst, patients and suspects of coronavirus in Herat hospital have been reported missing. They escaped the hospital most likely due to not being taken care of since doctors, who may have only basic equipment, are unwilling to approach them for treatment.
Meanwhile, thousands of Afghan citizens enter the country from Iran despite the upsurge in that country, as many states have closed borders with.
With the inattention and carelessness of the government and people, the cases will grow exponentially. The reason is simple enough: the virus has a long incubation period. It can take up to four weeks for the symptoms to appear. This is what happened in Norway. This is what happened in Italy. This is what happened in Iran. This is what has happened the world over. For example, Italy had about 100 cases two weeks ago, now the entire country is under lockdown. And this is what Afghanistan is headed towards.
Take, for example, China how could it brought the outbreak under control. China’s effective healthcare system came into play. It also built multiple ad hoc hospitals. Quarantines were enforced using drones and CCTV cameras (China has over 300 million of them), many of them equipped with facial recognition abilities. China also developed a smartphone application that has the database of the people who have shown symptoms or tested positive for the virus. The police also asked people who had been in his vicinity to get themselves tested for the virus. The turning point of the outbreak in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, was to isolate all suspected patients and close contacts.
Needless to say, it will be funny to expect a similar reaction by the Afghan government. But the government is highly responsible to fight against the virus, equip hospitals, and take precautionary measures to save citizens’ lives. 
What is officials’ reaction towards the patients afflicted with coronavirus disease escaped from hospital in Herat province? Will they not put the lives of other citizens in danger? Do you not think that thousands of others will be afflicted as a result of this act? Just within one hour thousands may get afflicted as those patients will use public transportations, shake hands with their friends and family members, use dishes for food, change clothes, use chairs for sitting, etc. Citizens do not trust that only 21 people have been reportedly afflicted with the coronavirus disease in Afghanistan since about thousands of people enter the country from Iran. People wonder why the government does not close the border with Iran since the coronavirus was conveyed to Afghanistan from that country. The number of coronavirus afflicted people may be very high in Afghanistan and it will be discovered gradually. If the government does not take it serious, it will not be able to control the virus once it is spread in the entire country.
The country does not have enough kits to test for the virus, the hospitals do not have enough capacity even on a good day, and the economy is continuously stalling. Meanwhile, people are unwilling to acknowledge the threat. As if looking the other way will cause the situation to improve.
Closing down schools, universities, and educational institutes are useful but not enough. One does not see even rudimentary measures being undertaken anywhere else, to protect the population and the economy from an actual outbreak of coronavirus.
The government has to provide the population with more centers to test since whenever there is no opportunity or facilities to test, one never knows who is the carrier or patient. Moreover, the government must cancel mass gatherings, run TV advertisements, close down offices, and ask the regional and global states, mainly China, to support the country before the situation gets worse.
The risk is extremely high. Citizens have to take it serious and avoid mass gatherings.