covering COVID-19 in Afghanistan

Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska is an Uzbekistan-based journalist currently reporting from Afghanistan. She has been covering COVID-19 in the country for the past week with a focus on the situation of coronavirus and its spread across the country. We got in touch with Agnieszka and asked her about the state of the global pandemic in Afghanistan and how she has been covering it so far.

“The experience has been good so far; in fact, it is surprisingly usual. Afghanistan is not totally locked. Shops are still working and people can still be seen on the streets, though less in numbers, so is the traffic. I started covering COVID-19 last week when the number of positive cases in the country were lower. At the time, I would just walk around the city without any problems and also went to hospitals to visit people coming back from Iran. I reported without major obstacles,” she said when speaking with CFWIJ.

Agnieszka informed us that the majority of COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan have been reported in Herat due to its proximity to Iran’s border. Agnieszka said that thousands of people cross the border everyday, while trying to escape the pandemic in Iran. However, she said that the numbers are by far not precise enough. 

Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska canva.jpg

“This is because Herat, and Afghanistan in general, is doing very few tests, which is why the number of cases have been much underestimated,” she said and added that this was also what the officials have stated so far.

In terms of the information flow Agnieszka said that it has not been as difficult to keep up with it. “We just know that everyday towards the evening we’ll have a new update. We know when we can expect new information. The number of cases are rising everyday, which is scary, but what’s the fact that they are underreported is scarier,” Agnieszka told CFWIJ.

In terms of safety and hygiene, Agnieszka said that she tries to put on the mask when she goes out and avoids physical contact. However, wearing the mask for her can be difficult at times.

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By The Coalition for Women in Journalism

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