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No Covid-19 case recorded among drug addicts

No Covid-19 case recorded among drug addicts

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Nov 10, 2020 - 18:18

KABUL (Pajhwok): So far no drug addict has contracted coronavirus in Afghanistan while some addicts call themselves “anti-Covid-19”, but health experts term this a baseless claim.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, about 42,297 positive cases, 1,574 deaths and 34,721 recoveries have been registered in Afghanistan.

However, the MoPH says no case of coronavirus has been detected among drug addicts so far.

According to reports, Afghanistan is one of the world’s largest drug producing countries. No new survey has been conducted to know the number of drug addicts in Afghanistan, but a 2015 survey shows 3.6 million people, which makes 11 percent of the population, are addicted to different drugs.

Many addicts spend nights away from their homes in parks, on roads and other areas and they do not follow health recommendations to protect themselves from the pandemic such as using mask, washing hands with soap, social distance and so on. They use syringes to inject drugs to their bodies.

Sayed Javed Badakhsah, head of the drug demand reduction department at MoPH, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Public Health Ministry had so far collected 4,842 men and 480 women drug addicts and homeless people in Kabul and hospitalized them in Ibn-Sena 1,000-bed hospital and in 100-bed women hospital.

He said a number of suspected addicts had undergone the coronavirus tests, but they were found negative and no positive case was recorded among them.

Across the country, he said: “Samples have been taken from suspected drug addicts and the results were negative and it was interesting.”

Asked why addicted individuals did not contract the disease, Badakhsh said it needed a survey and research and he could not comment on it at the moment.

Addicts: We are not infected by Covid-19

Pajhwok interviewed 60 addicts in Kabul and all of them claimed that none of their friends had contracted Covid-19.

Azizullah, one of the addicts who has been living under the Pul-i-Sukhta bridge, said he had not contracted the disease so far and neither he had seen other addicts to be infected.

He added: “This disease is sent to humans by Allah (swt) and He knows we are ‘pure’ people and those who have a weak iman (faith) are infected with the virus.”

Ghulam Sarwar, another addict, said: “All people hate us because of Covid-19, but we have not contracted the virus by the grace of God so far. If we are infected with Covid-19, the government would kill all drug addicts so that the virus is transferred to others.”

Yet another addict, Jalal, said: “We are anti-Covid-19, neither I nor any of our friends have been infected with the virus.”

He said he went home every night and had he contracted the virus, his family members would also have been infected.

Qais, another addict, said: “Our bodies are weak, but the drugs we use are stronger, so we are not vulnerable to the virus.”

Sediqullah, said: “We have not contracted Covid-19.  Coronavirus and using drugs is like a fight between two wrestlers and in this fight drugs are stronger than the virus.”

He said since the Covid-19 outbreak, the MoPH collected and tested dozens of addicts several times, but released them after examination because their test results were negative.

Doctors: Drug addicts can also be infected with Covid-19

Dr. Wahid Alokozai, head of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Kabul, said coronavirus was a new disease and there was no scientific information about which people were more or less affected by the disease.

He said due to the spread of Covid-19, the Afghan government and MoPH had lost their way how to deal with it and no attention was paid to drug addicts. He called no positive cases among addicted individuals as baseless claim.

He said as addicts used drugs that contained morphine which relieves pain and fever and soothes patients.

According to him, addicted individuals could be infected with Covid-19, but symptoms (pain and fever) might not appear on them due to the drugs they used.

Dr. Nabil Paktin, former head of the coronavirus unit at MoPH, also said that drug addicts could be infected with the virus and it was incorrect to say that they did not contract the virus.

About negative cases among addicts after MoPH tests, Paktin said: “I don’t think the doctors were able to get the samples properly from addicts because their body and clothes are unclean.”

According to him, Coronavirus testing requires full accuracy and very little contamination could show the result negative.

He said the addicts also lied that they had not been infected. “If they tell the truth, they are forced into quarantine and it is like death for addicts”.

Paktin did not believe in the figures provided by MoPH about the virus and called the fight against Covid-19 disease in Afghanistan as a “political lie”. The exact number of people infected with the virus whether healthy people or addicts was not accurate in Afghanistan, he added.

According to a survey conducted by MoPH on September 5th, ten million people in Afghanistan have been infected with coronavirus. The ministry has so far reported the number of positive cases in hospitals as 38,324.

The results of the survey and recorded figures show that about four percent among every 100 positive cases in Afghanistan have been recorded.

The positive cases have been on the rise since February and peaked in April. Since then, the number of daily positive cases has dropped to dozens, but has now surged to 100 cases daily.

The virus was first emerged in Wuhan province of China in November in 2019 but it rapidly spread to many other countries.

The infection cases have currently reached 50 million worldwide with 1.25 million people died while 35 million others recovered.

sa/ma

 


 

“This Investigative Report was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Pajhwok and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”

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