Security Brief: EMH2 Week of March 14, 2022
Updated: Mar 30
Week of Monday, March 14, 2022 | Issue 44
Megan Bilney, Alyssa Schmidt, Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2) Team
Manja Vitasovic, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff
Map of COVID-19 Outbreaks in China
Date: March 14, 2022
Parties involved: The Taliban; World Health Organization (WHO); Afghanistan healthcare system; the UN; Afghanistan children; Afghanistan parents; Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC); the Red Cross
The event: This year, 142 children have died and 18,000 were infected with measles in Afghanistan. Measles damages the human immune system and the current outbreak has been exacerbated in malnourished children. Hospitals have insufficient medicine and medical supplies, like oxygen for respirators, and medical staff is often unpaid. A recent COVID-19 spike has already disrupted and stretched the healthcare system. The country is facing a humanitarian crisis, with the population dealing with poverty, severe hunger, and displacement from the Taliban takeover.
Analysis & Implications:
Afghanistan’s healthcare system will not likely be able to treat all children with measles and malnutrition comorbidities. The humanitarian crisis will likely cause food scarcity with reduced farming output and unequal access to resources, likely causing malnutrition and damaged immune systems among children. A damaged immune system and a lack of preventative care will likely cause inefficiency of anti-measles treatment, likely leading to long-term illnesses. Children with measles will likely be more susceptible to pneumonia and COVID-19.
Parents will likely advocate for fast procurement of measles vaccines if a public health campaign is undertaken. Vaccine supplies sufficient to contain the outbreak are unlikely to reach Afghanistan as war, political turmoil in Afghanistan and the COVID-19 pandemic are very likely disrupting the supply chain. Alternative routes and suppliers, like the WHO and non-government organizations such as the NRC and the Red Cross, are likely needed.
Date: March 17, 2022
Parties involved: Chinese government; Chinese healthcare system; Chinese citizens
The event: The Chinese government has reiterated its commitment to zero-COVID-19 approach as reported daily cases increased to 2400 on March 17. China’s response has included the lockdown of tens of millions of people, and the Jilin Province, located at the border with North Korea, became a major hotspot. Affected cities are preparing temporary hospitals, with reports suggesting they have two to three days’ worth of medical supplies.
Analysis & Implications:
Temporary hospitals will likely provide triage and increased access to medical help. These temporary hospitals will very likely require staff to be pulled from other areas, and are very likely to impact other areas of the healthcare system, likely resulting in reduced patient treatment due to staff shortages. It is unlikely the temporary hospitals will improve patients’ care, due to the lack of supplies and quality treatment, and is likely to result in poor patient outcomes, in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related cases.
China’s factories will almost certainly produce fewer chemical and technology products in the lockdown, very likely disrupting global supply chains, and very likely to reduce food production. This will very likely cause the rise in food prices and will likely exacerbate global poverty and famine. The continual disruption to import and exports in China and is likely to cause problems globally as countries such as the US rely on China for resources.
The lockdown is likely to create fear throughout the world as cases continue to rise in China and more protocols are being implemented. The Omicron subvariant is likely creating difficulty with prevention and panic as it is deemed more transmissible than the original Omicron, likely leading to more preventative measures enforced in the future. This variant is likely to spread to other countries as symptoms are less severe or individuals are asymptomatic and likely unaware that they have been infected.
________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)
 Measles Outbreak Kills 142 Children in Afghanistan, VOA News, March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/measles-outbreak-kills-142-children-in-afghanistan-/6484362.html
 New Wave of COVID-19, Measles Outbreak Stretch Fragile Afghan Health System, VOA News, February 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/new-wave-of-covid-19-measles-outbreak-stretch-fragile-afghan-health-system/6456032.html
 China to “stick with” zero-COVID strategy, President Xi says as millions remain under lockdown, ABC News, March 2022, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-18/china-to-stick-with-zero-covid-strategy-president-xi-says/100919774