October 29, 2020

Coronavirus: The porous borders where the virus cannot be controlled

As nations shut borders, a surge of people pouring unmonitored over international boundaries in a volatile and vulnerable part of the world has sparked warnings about the unchecked spread of the virus there.

In March, more than 150,000 Afghans spontaneously returned from Iran, one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus – thousands more arrive daily.

Tens of thousands have also recently returned from Pakistan, the worst affected country in South Asia.

Officials are struggling to control this unprecedented movement across what have always been porous and often lawless borders.

So far, Afghanistan is not among countries severely hit by the virus, reporting 423 cases and 14 deaths, but this influx has raised fears of much higher transmission rates.

“With the numbers of likely infected people who have crossed the border, I expect the numbers of cases and deaths [in Afghanistan] to go up significantly,” says Natasha Howard, associate professor of global health and conflict at the National University of Singapore.

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