Health officials in Afghanistan’s Balkh province on Thursday warned of a "human catastrophe" if the public does not abide by the health guidelines and hygiene protocols.
Gul Ahmad Ayoubi, the head of the Balkh health department, said that at least 50 COVID-19 patients have died in Balkh province in the past 12 days while another 80 patients are under treatment.
He said 179 oxygen balloons have gone missing from the hospital.
This comes as people across the nation are reporting a lack of oxygen in the hospitals treating COVID-19.
“There is no oxygen for patients,” said Idrees, a patient’s visitor.
Meanwhile, footage on social media from Abdu Ali Sina Balkhi hospital in Balkh appears to shows a patient dying from lack of oxygen.
“I talk to the people inside the hospital, they are complaining about oxygen,” said Mohammad Amin Darasoofi, a member of Balkh's provincial council.
There are also concerns that strongmen in the area use oxygen for their own people.
Latest COVID-19 figures in Afghanistan:
The Ministry of Public Health on Thursday reported 1,509 new positive cases of COVID-19 out of 4,392 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 34 deaths and 107 recoveries from COVID-19 in the same period.
Waheed Majroh, the acting minister of public health, speaking at a press conference in Kabul on Thursday said: “We will face a disaster soon if people don't pay attention to the health advice of the Ministry of Public Health. Creating health centers and increasing beds is not the solution” to fight COVID-19.
“We are faced with a lack of oxygen,” Majroh said. “We are trying to control the situation and supply oxygen (to hospitals) in Kabul and Mazar.”
“People must wear masks. People should stay at home for two weeks, especially those who don’t need to go out for urgent work,” he added.
The new cases were reported in Kabul (557), Kandahar (69), Herat (28), Balkh (172), Nangarhar (82), Takhar (154), Kunduz (123), Faryab (30), Paktia (21), Maidan Wardak (55), Badakhshan (36), Kapisa (43), Laghman (6), Bamiyan (7), Ghazni (34), Zabul (14), Ghor (4), Uruzgan (3), Farah (18), Khost (2), Paktika (17) and Nuristan (2) provinces.
Deaths were reported in Kabul (12), Herat (1), Balkh (6), Kandahar (2), Nangarhar (1), Takhar (1), Kunduz (2), Baghlan (1), Paktia (1), Maidan Wardak (1), Badakhshan (1), Laghman (1), Logar (2) and Khost (2) provinces.
The ministry reported that the cumulative total of known COVID-19 cases is 76,653, the total number of reported deaths is 3,068, and the total number of recoveries is 58,070.
So far, 485,013 samples have been tested in government centers and there are 15,414 known active COVID-19 cases in the country, data by the ministry indicates.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of deaths from COVID-19 globally is more than 3,692,586 and the number of known global coronavirus cases is 171,711,450.