COVID-19: 10 Million Afghans Said To Have Virus; Russian Regional Leader Tests Positive
By RFE/RL August 05, 2020
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 700,000, with more than 18.5 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.
Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.
The Health Ministry estimates that nearly a third of the population -- or 10 million people -- has been infected with the coronavirus.
Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani told reporters on August 5 that the survey was based on antibody tests carried out on around 9,500 people across the country with technical support from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The survey estimated that some 31.5 percent of the population of 32 million had contracted the virus, with the highest infection rate in the capital, Kabul where more than half of the city's 5 million people are believed to have been infected.
Afghanistan, which has poor health infrastructure and has been wracked by decades of war, has only limited testing capacity.
Officially, the country only has 36,829 positive cases and 1,294 deaths as of August 5, although the real numbers are believed to be much higher.
"A second wave of the infection is happening everywhere in the world and we cannot be an exception," Osmani said. "We will use the findings of this survey to better prepare ourselves for a possible second wave."
The virus entered Afghanistan in February as thousands of migrants and refugees returned from neighboring Iran, one of the region's worst-hit countries.
Osmani said a survey on the mortality rate of the coronavirus in Afghanistan was under way.
The head of the region of Kalmykia, Batu Khasikov, has announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus.
In a video statement posted on Facebook on August 5, which appears to have been recorded in a hospital room, Khasikov said he was progressing "easily" through the recovery process.
"Let me tell you, there is nothing good about this illness. But I am easily going through it as my immunity system allows me to do so," Khasikov said. "When I learned about the positive test results, I, of course, thought about my relatives -- my parents, first of all."
Khsikov said he continued working remotely and asked the region's residents to follow lockdown restrictions to avoid contracting COVID-19.
He also said that it was too early to talk about lifting coronavirus restrictions imposed in Kalmykia in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease.
Kalmykia is a region on Russia's southern steppes near the Caspian Sea.
Kalmyks, a Mongol-speaking and predominantly Buddhist ethnic group, make up a majority of the 270,000 people living there.
According to Kalmyk authorities, 2,839 coronavirus cases have been registered in the region -- including 40 people who have died from COVID-19.
With reporting by AFP and dpa
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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