KABUL, Afghanistan

One of its neighbors was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, another is among the world’s worst-hit countries, and a third’s tally is in the thousands and rising daily.

Yet, somehow, Afghanistan’s COVID-19 numbers remain surprisingly low.

In the country of over 35 million, there were just over 521 cases by Saturday — nearly 50 days after its first case was reported on February 24.

Afghanistan faced up to the COVID-19 challenge almost three months after the new coronavirus, since named SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in China last December.

The threat came knocking on the country’s western border

Read more: Is Afghanistan underreporting COVID-19 cases?