The 21-day lockdown in the city of Kabul and its provincial districts has affected small businesses, especially shop owners and workers, who said they are concerned about how to afford the needs of their families.
So far, 145 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Afghanistan, according to the Public Health Ministry.
“Hunger will kill us before we are killed by the coronavirus. We are stuck between two deaths,” said Jan Ali, a worker.
“There is panic. There is no one in the markets. People are at their homes,” said Mohammad Salim, a shopkeeper.
But presidential adviser Waheed Omer at a press conference on Monday said that fighting the coronavirus is a top priority for the government and that funds have been allocated for provinces that share a border with Iran.
He said the campaign against the coronavirus requires acting with responsibility and cooperation. “The situation is expected to become worse, not only here but globally,” but insisted that the government will take steps in areas where people will face food scarcity in the future.
There are rumors among people about some deaths that are suspected to be due to the coronavirus, especially in the west of Kabul. But a 70-year-old Kabul resident, Yar Mohammad, who sells tools for coffins, said there has been no increase in the number of customers in recent weeks.
“They are not buying coffins if they bury a body in an area near their house. They only buy cotton,” he said.
“At least 10 people have come here to buy stone (for the cemetery),” said Sayed Daud, a Kabul resident.
However, Waheed Paiman, a journalist who has followed stories on coronavirus deaths in Herat, believes that deaths in Herat have increased, and says there are concerns about a lack of hygiene measures in the province.
“Social taboos and lack of testing centers are the main reasons that we know about the limited number of coronavirus deaths in Afghanistan,” Paiman said.
Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz, who inaugurated a COVID-19 testing center in Kabul on Monday, said testing each and every person is not possible.
“People should stay isolated for five to 14 days. This is the best advice, and the world is following it,” he said. “There is no need to test everyone.”