When the number of severe cases of COVID-19 began to rise late last year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reopened its COVID-19 treatment center in Gazer Ga, in Herat province, Afghanistan. The facility, which supports the Ministry of Public Health’s COVID-19 referral structure in Shaidayee hospital, resumed activities on December 2, 2020. Two-and-a-half months later, the average number of new hospital admissions for severe COVID-19 has dropped to around four patients a day.
The treatment center—originally open from June 28 to the end of September to support the response to the pandemic’s first wave—has 20 beds, including a 10-bed unit for patients who need oxygen but do not require intensive care. Its capacity can be increased to 32 or even 48 beds depending on the evolution of the pandemic.
“MSF is continuing to follow the COVID-19 situation closely in Herat with the Ministry of Public Health and other partners in order to adapt our activity to the needs,” said MSF’s head COVID-19 nurse in the Melusi Mabhena region.
The first case of COVID-19 in Afghanistan was recorded in late February 2020 in Herat. The virus then quickly spread to the whole province and neighboring ones in March as tens of thousands of migrant workers passed through Herat on their way back from Iran. According to official data from the Ministry of Public Health, Herat remains the second-most affected province in Afghanistan after Kabul, with more than 9,143 confirmed cases and around 424 reported deaths.