Herat's ambulance workers are on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus, transporting many infected people to the hospitals in this western province, a hotspot of the epidemic.
TOLOnews reporter Nasir Ahmad Salehi spent a day riding along with an ambulance team to get an up-close view of the situation on the ground.
The day begins with ambulance workers suiting-up in protective clothing, as they have received information that a family is infected and needs transportation.
The family they are going to visit "lost their elder who is the father of the house.”
The whole family needs to transportation to the hospital for COVID-19 testing.
“We arrived at an area where yesterday we had a patient who we transferred to Herat’s regional hospital for COVID-19 but unfortunately he died,” said Ibrahim Mohammadi, head of the ambulance team, “Now we have come here to transfer those people who had contact with him.”
Transferring infected people is the daily job of the ambulance workers, and they are the first health workers to come in contact with people showing symptoms.
“There are rumors spread about those who are infected,” said Mohammadi. He said the stigma of testing positive adds a layer of difficulty in dealing with patients. “This is one of the barriers we face-- infected people do not cooperate with us,” he said.
All infected people are first transferred to Herat’s COVID 2 hospital in north of Herat city to take the test. “Those who are infected are transferred to Shaidaye hospital or the COVID-19 hospital for treatment.”
“Those who come in here are people suspected of having the virus, and also people who are in critical condition,” said Mohammad Shamool Sadiqi, head of Herat’s COVID 2 hospital. “From here, the infected people are transferred to the COVID 1 hospital for treatment (which is in Angel district, 7 km outside of Herat city).
Masoma Haidari, a doctor at the COVID 2 hospital, said: “40 percent of those coming in here for the test are positive.”
After Kabul, Herat province has the most positive coronavirus cases.
62 new coronavirus cases were reported in Herat province over the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 1,773, local health officials said on Monday.
So far, 36 people have died of the coronavirus in Herat and 203 others have recovered, officials said, adding that 134 are under treatment, seven of whom are in critical condition.
Out of 1,773 positive coronavirus cases in Herat, 1,146 are men and 627 others are women, officials added.
The positive cases have increased in recent days, especially after the government eased the lockdown in Herat, according to officials.