Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, March 30th, 2020

What Should We Do Against Covid-19?

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What Should We Do Against Covid-19?

In spite of many concerns about political instability in Afghanistan, Afghans have now become concerned over the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. The first coronavirus infection case was confirmed in the border province of Herat in western Afghanistan on February 24th. Since then, the government has adopted measures to contain further spread of the virus such as deploying medical teams at the country’s airports as well as in border areas, but in recent days the anxiety of people, the warnings of health officials and also the number of infected people have been on the rise. With confirming at least 16 infected cases and dozens of suspicions, the government has suspended the opening of all educational institutions, private and service until 17th April 2020. Presidential Spokesperson Sedqi Sediqqi said in a tweet, “On joint requests of public health, education, higher education, and information and culture ministries, the president calls on all educational sectors, private and service, to remain close until 17th April 2020. the new year events and sports competition had already been prohibited because the problem. Undoubtedly, the banning the aforementioned gatherings was one the best preventive measure but there are still dozens of public gatherings every day across the country, and there is no one to stop them.
In regard to the aforementioned concerns, it was largely linked with rushing large number of Afghans refugees from Iran. With increasing return of Afghan refugees from Iran, the infected cases of corona-virus also increased in recent days. Based on media reports within 4 last days about 37,000 Afghans have returned from Iran to the Herat due to corona-virus outbreak in Iran and the increasing number of deaths there. However, Corona-Virus is a global curse, not limited to a certain country. Based on latest reports the Corona-virus which was originated from China has spread to 129 countries. The global death toll from the virus has crossed 5,300 with more than 142,000 cases confirmed worldwide, as report quoted from World Health Organization. The world countries have allocated millions of dollar to fight against corona-virus yet they could not succeed to protect their economy and people against the dangerous disease. Therefore, the experts warn if the government does not take more serious actions to tackle the virus, or else it will spread to more parts of Afghanistan. Yesterday, the MPs said that if the quarantine had not seriously taken into consideration in Afghan borders, the deadly virus will rapidly travel throughout Afghanistan. Now, the basic question is what should we do against the growing issue in Afghanistan?
In response to the aforementioned questions, we should note that no country has yet developed a certain vaccine or drug to combat the disease. Therefore, the first and most important way to deal the virus is preventive measure. The experience also shows that preventive measure is the easiest and costless way to deal with the disease. Though China was the first origin of the corona epidemic, they almost overcome the virus with preventive measures. In preventive measures, the individuals can play the most important role with adhering to hygienic principles. Unfortunately, no one take it serious because of many reasons such as low literacy level, especially low health literacy level, weak role of media and negligence of individuals. Many think that corona-virus will only infect the neighbors, not them and so neither use personal hygienic care nor hear the health advices. Therefore, as soon as possible we must launch a national campaign and make the people aware of consequences if they persist to neglect the issue. Undoubtedly, the media can play a very positive role in public awareness on condition that they should not wait to receive money versus their ads.
The second important way is to mobilize all public health institutions in fighting against corona-virus. Unfortunately, there is no effective cooperation between health system and infected people and so they try to escape or hide the disease from the health system. It is unclear for people how they will be treated once they are caught/ quarantined by the government. Therefore, the health ministry has to quickly launch an advocacy or awareness program so that the infected individuals not frighten or not hide themselves endangering their lives and also lives of others. Without a doubt, if this disease farther spreads in our country, neither there is enough preparation for the treatment of neither patients nor our health capacities are responsive to the epidemic of corona. However, the ministry of health has shown good competences yet; despite having the least facilities and despite bordering with origin countries of corona-virus, Afghanistan has relatively remained secure but now it seems that we are in a pre-storm situation.
Thirdly, we must not allow the economic opportunists to increases the price of hygienic stuffs in the country. Unfortunately, after of the first positive case in Afghanistan the prices of the hygienic stuffs have sharply increased in free market of Afghanistan. In fact, the corona-virus has changed to a nightmare for the already poor people but a golden opportunity for economic opportunists of the free market. This issue has caused a lot of criticism in social media networks and also among people. Therefore, the citizens have repeatedly asked the government officials to interfere in the free market and not allow the shop keepers, pharmacists and opportunist companies to farther pressurize the people. In time of crisis, it is expected from all people to collectively take part in fighting against the common threat, not to worsen the crisis.
The last but not least, is border control. Unfortunately, it is reported that thousands of legal or illegal Afghan refugees return from Iran and they may spread the virus everywhere in the country. Obviously, if the current trend persists, the consequence will be very dangerous for Afghan people. It is expected from the government and international humanitarian organizations to ask Iran stop compulsory deportation otherwise we must expect a very distasteful crisis in the country. We can also ask Iran to expel them accordance with a regular program, not collectively which is not manageable. Eventually, it must be emphasized that we should not expect the government to do everything but ourselves do nothing. If we want to defeat covid-19, everyone must play his role in the country. 

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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