KABUL – Nearly 31.5 percent or 10 million of the Afghan population has been infected with the coronavirus, according to a survey published on Wednesday by the health ministry.
The estimates come from antibody tests done on some 9,514 people across the country, with technical support from the World Health Organization.
Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Usmani told reporters in Kabul that such infected people may have already recovered.
The health authorities have reported nearly 37,000 infections across the country of 32 million people with nearly 1,300 fatalities.
“Based on the survey 31.5 percent of the people or 10 million of the population have been infected with the coronavirus,” the minister said.
“The infection rate in urban areas is 37 percent, while it is 27 percent in rural areas, mainly due to geographical distance,” he said adding the general infection rate among women was 32 percent and among the men 29 percent.
In comparison between children and elders, the infection rate was 35.2 percent among the adults over 18 years, and 25.3 percent among the children aged between 5 to 17 years old.
“Children recovered from the virus without showing symptoms or to be hospitalized,” he said.
The highest infection rate (53 percent) was recorded in Kabul and the lowest (21 percent) in western Ghor province, he said.
The minister did not reject the possibility of a second wave of the infection in the country and advised people to strictly follow health guidelines such as wearing face masks and observing social distancing measures.
The spread of the virus has significantly decreased in recent weeks. In the past 24 hours, 275 suspected patients have been tested out of which only 47 cases were found positive. Six deaths were also reported during the period.
Afghanistan has partially lifted the months-long lockdown. On Wednesday, the authorities allowed the universities to begin their classes.
Some of the hotels and nearly all of the parks have been reopened.