Testing for the coronavirus has temporarily stopped in the northern province of Balkh due to the lack of the required kits, which officials say cannot be purchased unless they are first approved by the World Health Organization.
Balkh stands third in terms of positive cases of the coronavirus, but is first in the number of COVID-19 deaths, with six. On Saturday the death of a 65-year-old man due to the coronavirus was reported in Balkh.
“These kits should be taken from the World Health Organization. We cannot buy them from the market,” said Khalilullah Hekmati, head of Balkh's public health directorate. “Or the organization should approve the kits that meet the standards.”
He said that they informed the Ministry of Public Health about the kits on April 13.
Meanwhile, Faryab governor Naqibullah Fayiq said that patients in his province have been waiting for test results for the past 10 days but they have not been admitted to the hospital yet.
He said the testing facilities are being pressured into prioritizing strongmen and high-ranking government officials.
“We were just told (by the Balkh testing center) not to send any samples--but in Kabul and other labs, hundreds of strongmen and high-ranking officials are testing for the virus,” and they don’t need a test, Fayiq tweeted on Friday.
Doctors said that only those who show COVID-19 symptoms should be tested, as the country is facing a lack of kits.
“It is better that all tests happen based on doctors’ advice,” said Shafiqullah Shayiq, a doctor at Bu Ali Sina Hospital in Balkh.
Balkh residents said the coronavirus and political instability is affecting the vulnerable people who can hardly find bread for their families amid the lockdown, which has cleared the streets and stopped work for many people.
“I beg Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah to end their rift. How long they are going to continue this?” Mohammad, a Balkh resident, asked.
“Imagine how difficult it is to feed 10 people in a family,” said Mohammad Qasim, a Balkh resident.