Covid in Afghanistan: how is country dealing with virus and will efforts change now Taliban has taken control?

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How could the Taliban’s takeover affect how Afghanistan deals with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic?

The Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan and now control all key cities in the country, including the capital of Kabul.

Militants retook the city of Kabul on Sunday (15 August) - almost two decades after they were driven from the city by US troops.

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US troops withdrew from the country in July,  but several thousand returned to Kabul at the weekend in order to help evacuate American and allied personnel from the capital.

But how could the Taliban’s takeover impact how the country deals with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic - and how many vaccines have been administered so far?

Here’s what you need to know.

How many cases of Covid has Afghanistan had?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), from 3 January 2020 to 16 August 2021 there have been 152,142 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The country has had 7,025 reported deaths from the virus.

At the beginning of July, Afghanistan saw an exponential rise in Covid cases with a third wave reportedly sweeping the country.

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How many Covid vaccines have been administered in Afghanistan?

As of 11 August 2021, a total of 1,809,517 vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

How is the country dealing with Covid-19?

According to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), healthcare in Afghanistan is very limited and medical facilities, including those in Kabul, “do not have the capacity or capability to effectively deal with the Covid-19 outbreak”.

The supply of intensive care beds and ventilators is low, with some areas having no medical facilities with intensive care beds and ventilators.

The FCDO adds that although an estimated 30 per cent of the population had been exposed to Covid by June 2020, WHO warns that widespread complacency and failure to follow public health advice is creating serious risks in the community.

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People are generally not observing physical distancing or mask-wearing protocols.

It has also been reported that health authorities in Pakistan have decided to make arrangements to test every person entering the country from Afghanistan for Covid-19, sending those found infected with the virus to quarantine centres.

News outlet Shamshad News  recently reported that the Taliban banned the use of Covid vaccines in Paktia, which is one of the 34 provinces of the country located in Eastern Afghanistan.

According to the provincial Public Health Director, Walayat Khan Ahmadzai, the Taliban told them to stop distributing the vaccines and have since closed the Covid vaccine ward in the regional hospital.

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