Local officials have reported a surge in the number of positive cases of the coronavirus among health workers in the western province of Herat, which lies on the border with Iran and has the highest number of COVID-19 patients.
The province has three health facilities for COVID-19 patients. Two of them have been built recently and are for patients with mild or suspected symptoms of the coronavirus. Cases with severe symptoms are admitted to the regional hospital of Herat – a few kilometers from the center of the province.
According to officials, 41 health workers from the regional hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 25 just in the past week.
“A number of our doctors, health workers, administrative employees and nurses have tested positive for the coronavirus but, fortunately, their condition is not severe,” said Nasir Habib, the head of Herat’s regional hospital.
On Monday the first case of a doctor dying from the disease occurred in Kabul. The doctor had worked at a private hospital. So far 14 people have lost their lives from COVID-19.
Doctors and health workers in Herat who are on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 say there is a need for further aid to provide them with personal protection equipment.
“We are the most in contact with the coronavirus and there is a need for more equipment for our safety,” said Bashir Ahmad Barikzai, a doctor in Herat’s regional hospital.
“My demand from the Ministry of Public Health is that it should pay more attention to the health workers who are on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus,” said Kamal Nasir Faqiryar, a doctor in the hospital.
The doctors said there is a lack of personal protection equipment at the Herat health facilities where COVID-19 patients are treated. The provincial public health directorate linked this with prolonged procurement processes.
“Due to the problem in procurement and budget, we cannot equip all health workers with required equipment… It is not possible to ensure all safety measures,” said Mohammad Rafiq Shirzai, a spokesman for Herat’s public health directorate.