PESHAWAR - While coronavirus has forced closure of interna­tional borders among vari­ous countries, Pakistan has opened its border with Af­ghanistan to facilitate the stranded Afghans and tran­sit trade.

District Police Officer Dr Muhammad Iqbal told The Nation that during one month (April), they allowed 25,411 Afghans to cross into their native country.

He added that though cur­rently unregistered Afghans were not living in Khyber tribal district, and even if anyone is found, he would have to be deported to Af­ghanistan.

In addition, Dr Iqbal said that Afghan transit trade trucks cross the border into Afghanistan three days a week. “100 trucks cross the border each day,” he added.

On March 21, the govern­ment had opened the bor­der to allow the entry of trucks carrying food and es­sential goods under the Af­ghan Transit Trade. Again and Pakistan also opened the borders at Chaman and Torkham, between 6 and 9 April for stranded Afghans to return to their country at the special request of the Afghan government and on humanitarian consideration.

From 10th April Pakistan permitted the movement of cargo trucks and containers to cross-over into Afghani­stan through Torkham and Chaman border crossing points thrice a week and ex­tended it to five days a week on 1st May.

Though coronavirus has affected all countries of the world, Afghanistan is one of those countries which face severe threat of the conta­gion because of weak health infrastructure and very lim­ited testing facilities. As of May 4 2020, there have been 2704 positive cases of COVID-19, while 345 peo­ple have recovered and 85 deaths from coronavirus have been reported across 33 provinces of the country. However, the actual figure may be far bigger than the ones being documented by authorities due to very lim­ited facilities.

Afghanistan’s porous bor­ders is a challenge which makes it difficult to ensure detecting and averting the virus spread from adja­cent countries. Those hav­ing symptoms are afraid of seeking treatment and also Afghan homes usual­ly host large, multigener­ational families, in which social distancing phenome­non is very rare. Moreover, Afghanistan’s 4 million in­ternally displaced people are in particular at risk be­cause they are more con­cerned about poverty than the contagion.

The Afghan Ministry of Public Health has recently forecast that, “16 million out of a population of more than 30 million could get the coronavirus. In the worst case scenario 700,000 peo­ple will require hospitaliza­tion, 220,000 of them may require ICU treatment.