Agence France-Presse

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The Taliban boasted of their readiness to battle the lethal coronavirus when it first reached Afghanistan, however now the insurgents are struggling to curb its unfold of their strongholds.

For months, Habib Rahman, a resident of a Taliban-controlled space within the south of the nation, has been unable to check whether or not his persistent cough is because of the virus.

“I’ve a cough, fever and chest ache,” stated Rahman, 32, who owns a grocery retailer in Helmand province.

“There may be neither a middle right here to diagnose or deal with coronavirus sufferers, neither is there any effort to create consciousness of the illness.

Official figures present Afghanistan has greater than 17,000 confirmed instances — together with hundreds in Taliban-controlled territories.

However an total scarcity of testing kits, medical provides and a dilapidated well being system had been compounding issues in tackling the unfold, stated Ahmed Saeedi, an unbiased analyst.

Years of warfare have left Afghanistan with a crumbling well being sector, hampering the federal government’s battle in opposition to Covid-19.

In an try to bolster their narrative that they’ll run Afghanistan higher than the struggling administration, the Taliban launched a marketing campaign to sort out the virus in March.

They posted photographs on-line exhibiting insurgents distributing masks and cleaning soap to villagers — albeit with none social distancing.

In one picture, masked militants sporting white protecting fits verify residents’ temperatures and clarify about private hygiene as a machinegun is seen on a close-by desk.

Disbelief About Virus

The virus entered Afghanistan as contaminated migrants returned from neighboring Iran, the area’s worst-hit nation, and the Taliban ordered lots of of returnees into quarantine.

In some areas they managed, the insurgents allowed authorities well being officers to observe the virus’s unfold — one thing uncommon for a bunch blamed for the deaths of dozens of medics through the years.

However in current weeks, residents from provinces such as Kunduz, Helmand, Uruzgan and Kandahar — the place the Taliban maintain sway over giant areas — complain they’ve been deserted to their destiny.

In Kunduz, the place the militants fought a fierce evening battle earlier than a brief nationwide ceasefire final month, insurgents have barred medics.

“They stated they’d deal with the virus on their very own,” stated Sebghatullah, a health care provider from a close-by district, fearful concerning the residents’ lack of information when it got here to non-public hygiene.

Haji Qudratullah, a resident of Helmand, stated he lately noticed a bunch of Taliban fighters movie a promotional video at a neighborhood clinic, however they by no means returned.

“I’ve not seen anyone do something to boost consciousness concerning the virus right here,” he stated.

Taliban commanders insist they’re serving to battle the virus. “People who find themselves affected by excessive fever, cough and physique ache… are taken to Tarinkot,” stated Hafez Mohammad, a Taliban commander, referring to the capital of Uruzgan province.

Even throughout the Taliban’s rule within the late 1990s, Afghanistan’s well being sector was hit by poor infrastructure, little worldwide assist and underpaid medics.

The illness can be sweeping by the Taliban itself, with a number of high-level militants believed to be sick with Covid-19, in accordance with worldwide media reviews. The group deny any of their senior leaders are sick.

Transgression In opposition to Faith

In his annual message marking the Eid vacation, the Taliban’s high chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada, urged folks to hunt medical assist for the illness.

However he additionally insisted the virus was brought on by mankind’s “transgression in opposition to Allah’s faith”.

To cease the virus, folks ought to “search forgiveness from Allah and cease violating his instructions”, Akhundzada stated.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated the militants had distributed booklets explaining how you can forestall infections.

“Our cell groups, utilizing bikes, are taking folks with signs to the hospitals,” Mujahid instructed AFP.

Specialists, nevertheless, stated the insurgents confronted an uphill task.

“There isn’t a ambulance or an expert group that may take their samples or deal with these suspected sufferers,” well being official Hamid Ahmadi stated.

Residents, in the meantime, say they’ve little info on what to do. “Many individuals are complaining from flu-like signs… we do not know why,” stated Haji Abdul Bari in Helmand.

“No person has instructed us concerning the signs of corona. We do not know something about it.”

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