Acting minister warns of ‘disaster’ if public fails to wear masks

KABUL (Agencies): Waheed Majroh, the acting minister of public health, said on Thursday that Afghanistan will face a disaster soon if people don’t pay attention to health protocols relating to COVID-19. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Kabul, Majroh said that people must wear masks.

“We will face a disaster soon if people don’t pay attention to health advice by the Ministry of Public Health,” Majroh said adding that: “Creating health centers and beds is not the solution” to fight COVID19. Majroh also said the ministry is trying to address the oxygen shortage problem in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

“We are faced with a lack of oxygen, and we are trying to resolve the situation and supply oxygen (to hospitals) in Kabul and Mazar.” Majroh once again urged people to wear masks and avoid leaving home unnecessarily. “People must wear masks and people should stay at home for two weeks, especially those who don’t need to go out for urgent work.” Majroh said.

This comes after a number of Kabul residents told Ariana News that some private hospitals are turning patients with COVID-19 away due to a shortage of oxygen. According to the residents, the price of an oxygen cylinder has also recently increased from 600 AFN to 3,000 AFN in Kabul.

Oxygen production companies meanwhile say that power outages in Kabul have slowed the production of oxygen. The US Embassy in Kabul meanwhile issued a statement Thursday stating that its citizens have reported being denied admittance to hospitals due to a lack of space.

According to the embassy, hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients. In addition to this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice and the Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory advising against all travel to Kabul due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

While commercial flight options from Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul remain available, the US Embassy has strongly advised that US citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited, the embassy stated.