New Wave of COVID-19 in Badakhshan Province; Health Centers Facing Shortages of Essential Supplies

A new surge of COVID-19 is being observed in several provinces of Afghanistan, particularly in Badakhshan Province in the northeastern region. According to local sources, there has been a steady increase in virus cases during the first five months of this year. Health officials have noted that around 50% of the suspected samples have tested positive over the past two months. COVID-19 patients express dissatisfaction with the doctors’ negligence and inadequate measures to curb the virus spread. They urge the Ministry of Public Health, under the Taliban administration, to establish a dedicated center for COVID-19 patients in the province and enforce restrictions on movement outside healthcare facilities for infected individuals.

Dr. Saber Khashi, the head of the surveillance department at Fayzabad’s central hospital in Badakhshan Province, reports that the hospital has tested 5,342 suspected cases since the beginning of the new year, confirming nearly 700 as positive. Dr. Khashi further states, “COVID-19 cases in Badakhshan Province have been on the rise since the start of 2023. We have identified 5,342 individuals under suspicion, and out of the collected samples, 3,773 cases have been confirmed. Among the confirmed cases, 358 are male, and 338 are female.”

While health sources express concerns about the increasing number of positive cases, no COVID-19-related deaths have been reported in Badakhshan Province this year. Dr. Shahzada Ahmad, another physician at the central hospital, highlights that approximately 50% of suspicious samples have recently tested positive. He further explains, “COVID-19 has become rampant in Badakhshan Province, with an average positivity rate of 50%. When we test 50 or 60 samples, about half of them turn out positive. The reality is that COVID-19 has reached its peak in Badakhshan Province. People are not taking it seriously and neglecting health measures.”

COVID-19 patients from Fayzabad City and the surrounding districts, who visit the central hospital in Badakhshan Province, emphasize the need for improved treatment and attention. They urge the Ministry of Public Health to provide better facilities.

Imam Qul, a 45-year-old resident of Darayim district in Badakhshan Province, reveals that he has contracted the virus. He states, “I have been battling COVID-19 for three years now. I caught it last year, the year before that, and recently, I have been infected for a month. Initially, I experienced body aches, fever, and cough, prompting me to seek medical assistance. They collected a sample from me and instructed me to return tomorrow; the facilities here are inadequate. Something is amiss; the Ministry of Public Health should prioritize this matter.”

The recorded data on suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 reveals that the majority of these occurrences are concentrated in Fayzabad City, the capital of Badakhshan province, and the districts of Baharak, Jurm, Darayim, Tishkan, and Ishkashim. While other provinces in the country have witnessed a notable decline in positive cases, the northeastern region, specifically Badakhshan Province, continues to experience a surge. In the previous year, approximately 30 individuals from the Pamir region in Badakhshan Province succumbed to an illness resembling COVID-19.

The residents of Badakhshan Province are urging the Ministry of Public Health, under the Taliban administration, to establish a fully-equipped center for diagnosing and treating COVID-19 patients in the province. They believe that health centers in Badakhshan Province should actively identify individuals with coronavirus infections and gather data from both urban and rural areas. Furthermore, they highlight the importance of hospitalizing COVID-19 patients in a dedicated facility to effectively curb the spread of the disease.

However, Badakhshan Province has not established a dedicated center for diagnosing and treating COVID-19 patients. Instead, most infected individuals seek treatment at the central hospital in Fayzabad, the capital of the province. COVID-19, first discovered in China in 2019, is a global pandemic.

As a province sharing a border with China, the presumed origin of the virus, Badakhshan Province is considered vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. Reports indicate that in the past four years, the virus has claimed the lives of thousands of Afghan citizens. Furthermore, it has caused over 15 million deaths worldwide and continues to affect millions of people.