“it affects old, young and children” (1/2)

As Europe gradually declines, despite some confusion, Iran is hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19 which causes great concern: hospitals are being filled, and according to our observers, in several regions, the beds are missing. If the authorities, in the numbers they communicate, minimize the scope of this wave, our observers unequivocally give testimony: they see overwhelming hospitals and cities changing and an already alarming situation: of the country’s 31 provinces, 14 have turned to “red”, a sign on maximum circulation of the virus. Iran was among the first countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic after China, but the authorities did not recognize the presence of the virus on their soil until February 21. With our observers we had documented this first wave, the lack of resources, the dubious “Islamic cures” suggested by Imams and the virulent criticism of the authorities’ reaction.

Today, the virus is spread, even in the regions that were relatively saved by the first wave, and returns to those affected. According to official figures, on May 25, the daily death toll dropped to 34, but on July 6, it had risen to 200, near the deadliest day of the first wave, on April 14 (163 dead). For many commentators and our observers, however, the number of victims is deliberately underestimated by the authorities.

“We would need a month of total containment across the country”

Sina (pseudonym) is a doctor at a hospital in northern Iran. He confirms that he still had empty beds a month ago but that is no longer the case. His establishment must even refuse patients and send them to other hospitals, sometimes tens of kilometers away, since all hospitals in the immediate vicinity are in the same saturation situation.

Two months ago we had 1,500 patients in our hospital, it fell to 500 three weeks ago, and since then it has been going up all the time, we have about 1100 positive cases of coronavirus. Previously, there were four dead a day, today it has dropped to 20 dead. Our intensive care unit has had no beds available for 10 days. The symptoms of Covid-19 have changed: during the first three months of the epidemic it was mainly respiratory distress. The main symptoms are gastrointestinal upset.

At Masih Daneshvari Hospital, one of the most important treatment centers for Covid-19 in Tehran, there are no more beds available and patients are placed in parking spaces, treated in their car or chairs. Photos taken on July 6 by Mohammad Masoumian.

For me, the main responsibility for this situation is the government. He too quickly encouraged people to return to work, and they did not introduce any policy that could contain the new epidemic; they could have made it mandatory to wear a mask, deconfine step by step, prohibit movement from and to the red zones. But they didn’t do any of it. They just want to show that everything is back to normal, when I believe that what we need is at least a new month of total containment, in all countries and not just some regions, with shipping mandatory makeup for everyone who goes out all the time.

In the local media, cemetery or hospital officials have been alerted by the number of deaths for several weeks. On social networks, the consequences of the second wave are the same in all discussions. But it was not until July 2 that Iran’s President Hasan Rohani spoke. He said his government would “consider” imposing “restrictions and rules” in the red zones to stop the pandemic in Iran. However, no concrete measures have yet been announced or implemented.
“We don’t have enough medical resources and people die”

Ali (pseudonym) manages a public health organization in a city in southern Iran. His analysis is uncompromising:

We have cases of coronavirus during the first wave, but compared to other regions our situation was not so bad. Our virus treatment centers always had beds available and our mortality rate was not that high [il n’a pas voulu communiquer ce taux, invoquant le fait que le gouvernement iranien avait qualifié de “secret national” les chiffres des victimes du Covid-19, NDLR]. But since mid-May we have an increasing number of cases, the hospitals have no more beds available, and we had to ask the revolutionaries to open a field hospital. The number of deaths is much more important only during the first wave. And the victims are of all ages, young, old and even children. Mayors and local authorities have asked the provincial capital for help, but we have no bed, no doctors, nothing to give them. People die without being able to receive the care we could have given a month ago.

At the pediatric unit at Mofid Hospital in Tehran, many young patients have Covid-19.

When Tehran officially admitted the presence of Covid-19 on Iranian soil, local authorities in our province took specific action for our province. Our governor had the roads blocked, to avoid unnecessary trips to our home. This has helped to preserve our region. We also closed all the parks and asked people to work from home. But on April 29, the government broke all restrictions and put pressure on the local authorities to implement this. Travel to our region has resumed and as the number of cases is increasing every day. We are now one of the most affected regions in Iran, we have moved into the red zone.

The rest of this article will be published on July 8, 2020.