The Afghan cabinet has approved a plan to gradually ease nationwide lockdown which will allow businesses to open for certain hours, while President Ashraf Ghani has urged citizens to stay in their homes during Eid, according to the Presidential Palace.

Despite the limited testing capacity, the Public Health Ministry has reported an average of 500 new confirmed cases each day over the past week. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan is nearing 9,000, TOLO News reported on Thursday.

The lockdown began in Kabul in March, when the known positive cases in Afghanistan was around 400, but the more movement was restricted, the people mostly dependent on daily wages have been faced with a desperate situation–either go onto the streets and risk COVID-19 and arrest for violating the lockdown, or go hungry and fail to pay rent or cover other expenses.

Kabul governor Mohammad Yaqub Haidari said that poverty among families, as well as the arrival of Eid, has caused crowds to increase in the city.

On Thursday, during a press conference, the deputy minister of public health, Wahid Majroh said, “It is not poverty only that pushes people to go out of the house; some are going out to buy dry fruit while they can live without it”.

Kabul residents criticized the government for indifference to their situation and to the lockdown.

Earlier this month, up to 250,000 needy families in the capital Kabul began receiving ten naan breads per day in the first phase of the free bread project during the pandemic.

Afghanistan faced up to the COVID-19 challenge almost three months after the new coronavirus was first detected in China last December.

Afghanistan on Friday morning reported 542 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total tally to 9,216, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

A total of 205 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak in February, including 12 deaths within the past 24 hours.

Around 990 people are considered recovered, 58 more than the previous day, statistics showed.