By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Afghanistan on Saturday announced the nationwide closure of all educational institutions amid surging coronavirus infections and deaths in the country.
According to the Health Ministry, all kindergartners, high schools as well as universities and religious seminars would remain closed for at least two more weeks as the county's fragile health system grapples with mounting third wave of the pandemic.
Hospital sources and Health Ministry officials told Anadolu Agency they are overstretched as the raging violence has put restrictions on their mobility and consequent circumstances have limited their ability to cope with the situation.
More than a year into the pandemic, the government’s emergency preparedness remains inadequate.
The Health Ministry said the country of 39 million currently has around 2,000 oxygen concentrators and 1,063 hospital beds dedicated for COVID-19 treatment. There are 1,500 beds at intensive care units in the country.
On Friday, Amnesty International urged the Afghan government to immediately address oxygen shortages and procure adequate COVID-19 vaccines and other essential medical supplies with support from the international community.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan resumed its vaccination campaign on Saturday after receiving 700,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China on Thursday.
As per official figures, at least 968,000 doses of vaccines have already been administered in the war-ravaged country. Half of these vaccines, an estimated 500,000 doses were gifted to Afghanistan by India while another 486,000 doses came through the COVAX program.
Afghanistan recorded 973 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 89,861. The death toll in the country reached 3,527, with 67 new fatalities.