Afghanistan hit by oxygen shortage as Covid cases surge

Kabul, Jun 3 (EFE).- Afghan authorities announced on Thursday that the country was facing a shortage of oxygen in hospitals as Covid-19 cases had risen rapidly as part of what is being seen as the third wave of the pandemic.

“We are faced with shortage of oxygen” in government hospitals, the acting public health minister Wahid Majroh admitted on Thursday while inaugurating a new specialized Covid ward in a Kabul hospital.

“If our citizens don’t cooperate, we will face a tragedy, (…) unfortunately we are rapidly entering a phase of crisis in Afghanistan,” he added.

The minister said that two new hospitals were ready to be opened in the capital but were yet to be inaugurated due to lack of oxygen, adding that merely increasing hospital beds was not sufficient for resolving the coronavirus crisis.

There are seven oxygen factories in Afghanistan, but Majroh said they have been unable to meet the oxygen needs of the country due to “high demand in the market.”

Afghanistan registered 1,509 fresh cases of the coronavirus within the past 24 hours, while 34 Covid patients died within the period, according to data released by the public health ministry. The positivity rate remains high as authorities had carried out just 4,392 tests since Wednesday.

The country has so far registered over 76,600 Covid infections and 3,068 deaths. Kabul has been the worst-hit of the 34 Afghan provinces, accounting for 1,035 deaths.

On May 31, Afghanistan had registered its highest-ever daily Covid caseload, and the health authorities have put all hospitals in the country on high alert as part of efforts to contain the third wave of the pandemic.

Some of the dedicated Covid-19 hospitals established during the previous waves have been reactivated and equipped to try and deal with the rising number of cases.

As part of efforts to limit the surge, on Saturday the government had ordered the closure of all educational institutions for at least two weeks and shut down wedding hall for 10 days.

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