Health workers in Herat tested positive as Afghanistan reports 2,0342 Covid-19 cases

Outbreak of the coronavirus has seriously hampered the health care services at Herat’s largest hospital. Herat’s regional hospital has 650 beds and around 1,000 health workers. Arif Jalali, head of the hospital told Kabul Now that almost 60 percent of the staffs are suspected of being infected by the coronavirus.

The intensive care unit, ICU, of the hospital is closed. Health Officials say that all the employees in the ward have been fallen ill with Covid-19. Severely ill-patients are discharged from the ICU and transferred to surgical ward. Many patients in the ICU need ventilators and specialized health care but there are not enough facilities in the surgical department, and the chance of dying for these patients is high.

Some relatives of the patients told Kabul Now that their patients died due to the closure of the ICU and the fact that the staff members are infected by the virus.

Rahman Zamani, a visitor, told Kabul Now that his patient was transferred from ICU to another ward with minimal facilities. “Instead of closing the ICU section, it would be good if more doctors and nurses would be hired,” says Mr. Zamani.

Officials working at the hospital say that most of the staffs in the ICU, maternity ward, laboratory, and infection control department are infected by the virus. Relatives of the patients claim that they wait for hours for nurses and doctors to come to check their patients, and none mostly show up.

Noorullah Bahadori, is another visitor, who complains about lack of facilities and doctors at the hospital. “My cousin is hospitalized here and his condition is getting worse day by day,” he says. According to him, there is not any doctor and they are told that the doctors have been fallen ill with the covid-19 pandemic.

Since a large number of health staffs in government health facilities are infected by the virus, an influx of Covid-19 patients is on a sharp rise in private hospitals.  

The provincial council in Herat urges the local administration to manage the crisis at Herat’s regional hospital. Sardar Bahadori, a member of the council expressed his concern, warning that a significant increase in Covid-19 cases and the weak management of the hospital would lead to humanitarian tragedy. “Recently, the services of the hospital has reduced significantly. At this point, the health sector needs more staffs, but it’s in crisis and the provision of the health services is very low. The government must take the lead before it would become late,” says Mr. Bahadori.

Patients are tested at Herat’s regional hospital, said Jalali, adding that more than 250 health workers have been infected by the coronavirus in the province. “We are going through a tough days and we are trying to take care of our health while fighting together. 40 percent of our staffs including myself defeated the coronavirus and are now on our duties,” he denoted.

The hospital’s head added that the unnecessary wards are closed until the infected health officials would be recovered and get back to their duties which wouldn’t take more than 10 days.

A number of doctors from the private hospitals would voluntarily start their work at this hospital and the newly graduated nurses would join the hospital for practical trainings and experiences.

Herat regional hospital is the largest governmental hospital in the west of the country. Many patients from western, northern and even southern part of the country visit the hospital for the treatment purposes. According to the health officials, 10 percent of corona patients from other western provinces have come to this hospital.

With an increase in the number of health workers tested positive for coronavirus, most of the patients face serious problems because they are poor people and cannot afford the costs charged by private hospitals.

According to Mr. Jalali, those health workers with mild or no symptoms would get back to work after 14 days of self-quarantining.

A number of doctors at Shaidayee Covid-19 Hospital claim that some of the health officials at the hospital are infected by the virus. Most of these health officials are under the serious threat because of being directly in touch with the corona patients. Abdul Wahed Razi, a prominent health staff in Herat, passed away as a result of coronavirus on May 14.

According to the official records published on Sunday, June 07, the total number of Covid-19 cases has reached 2,0342 in the country. Though the actual death toll of the Covid-19 patients is said to be much higher than the official figure, 357 people, who were infected by the virus, are reported dead, and 1,875 have recovered.