IranWire's Shahed Alavi gives an account of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, and how the government dealt with the unfolding crisis, starting with reports of the first cases through to the staggering escalation of illness across the country — a situation the government failed to control for a range of reasons.
Alavi has updated this chronicle on a regular basis.
Read the full chronology.
Number of Coronavirus Fatalities Per Day Might Reach Three Digits, Warns Health Minister
The three provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Kermanshah and Hormozgan are at the peak of the pandemic and, on June 1, 50 percent of coronavirus fatalities took place in these three provinces, according to health minister Saeed Namaki. He warned that if that trend continued, the number of fatalities might again reach three digits. “Some officials are under the impression that coronavirus is over and continuously pressure me to reopen this place or that place,” he said. “But this is not the case. Not only is coronavirus not finished but Iran might face a dangerous peak at any moment.”
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said Iran's caseload was now 154,445, with 2,979 new infections recorded in the last 24 hours. He added that the virus had claimed another 81 lives over the last day, up by 18 compared with the previous day and raising the total to 7,878.
The biggest threat of the epidemic continuing comes from people’s fatigue with complying with health guidelines, warned Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. Coronavirus in Tehran is not over, he said, and the danger must be taken seriously. Bringing it under control will take time, he said.
Approximately 2,500 coronavirus tests are carried out daily in the Khuzestani capital of Ahvaz and it will increase to 3,000 per day, announced Farhad Abolnejadian, president of Ahvaz University of Medical Sciences. “We are trying to set up test labs in two other cities in Khuzestan and, as a result, the number of confirmed cases might increase,” he said.
In Khuzestan, Kermanshah, and Sistan and Baluchistan, the second wave of coronavirus is underway, and in Tehran the second wave is slowly progressing, said Alireza Mardani, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, who warned that a failure to comply with health protocols would lead to a third wave. Dr. Mohammad Hashemi Shahri, President of Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, warned that coronavirus is surging in Sistan and Baluchistan and if people do not follow health guidelines the situation was bound to become much worse.
Currently 2,500 people in Kurdistan are quarantining at home, and every day this number grows by 500, said Dr. Sedigh Jadidoleslami, the vice president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, who warned that the province might experience second and third waves of coronavirus outbreaks.
The epidemic is not any less lethal than it was before and coronavirus is erupting in Kurdistan, warned Ebrahim Ghaderi, another vice president at Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. He said the provincial capital of Sanandaj is moving towards the “red” state, or a state of emergency, and the number of cases are rising in the cities of Saghez and Marivan.
With the increase in the number of infections, more strict restrictions will be imposed in Kermanshah province, announced Houshang Bazvand, the governor of Kermanshah. He reported that Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences had sent a proposal to the province’s coronavirus taskforce to impose restrictions in 33 areas.
If reopened businesses and workshops do not comply with health protocols they will be closed down, warned Hossein Zolfaghari, deputy interior minister for security affairs.
The epidemic has cost 13 business sectors 108 trillion tomans (over $2.5 billion), claimed government spokesman Ali Rabiei.
Government Contract Workers in Kitchens and Tearooms Fired Because of Office Closures
For the first time in two months the number of new coronavirus cases in Iran exceeded 3,000 in one day. According to the criteria announced by the health ministry, at least 10 provinces in Iran were on “red” or emergency alert as of June 2, and the daily number of infections is rising in these provinces. One Iranian health minister warned the country could face a dangerous peak at any moment.
In the 24 hours leading up to June 2, the number of new coronavirus cases in Iran reached 3,117, reported Kianoush Jahanpour, the health ministry’s spokesman. After 60 days, this is the first time that the number of daily new coronavirus cases in Iran exceeded 3,000. After March 31, the daily number of new cases had fallen below 3,000.
The health minister Saeed Namaki emphasized that the situation is not normal and the situation that had emerged in Gilan and Qom was now being seen in the warm provinces of the south. He warned that the situation in Iran regarding coronavirus remained serious, and that it was moving from one climate to another.
The president of Tehran City Council Mohsen Hashemi expressed alarm regarding the number of people using Tehran’s public transportation system and said recent figures reveal that the rate of infections in the nation’s capital was climbing. In response, Saeed Namaki announced that if people do not practice social distancing in the metro and on city buses, traffic restrictions could be re-imposed.
The epidemic in Bushehr province is spreading, Saeed Kashmiri, the president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, said. He added that the number of hospitalizations and fatalities were rising and, as a result, all types of gatherings must be called to a halt.
The infection of a number of villagers in the county of Saravan in Sistan and Baluchistan province near the border with Pakistan reached crisis point at the beginning of June. To deal with the crisis, Mohammad Hashemi Shahri, president of Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, announced that movement in the area would be tightly controlled.
The number of coronavirus patients in West Azerbaijan increased considerably at the end of May. An alarm bell, warning of a second coronavirus wave, was sounding, announced Dr. Javad Aghazadeh, the president of West Azerbaijan University of Medical Sciences.
Due to the surge in the number of coronavirus infections in Iraqi Kurdistan, officials for the autonomous Kurdish region closed the Bashmagh border crossing point with Iran until June 5. A Kurdish official in Sulaymaniyah told IranWire that the border had been closed because of the surge of infections in Penjwen, the closest city in Iraqi Kurdistan to Bashmagh border crossing, which authorities believe is a result of the second peak in Iranian Kurdistan and the city of Marivan. Travelers coming from these areas were spreading the virus.
Majid Khorshidi, deputy governor of Bushehr, announced that wearing masks is mandatory for government employees in Bushehr. Those who do not wear masks will be reprimanded, he said.
In the 24-hour period covering June 1 and June 2, 261 new coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Tehran, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to the previous day, according to Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce.
According to the newspaper Hamshahri, the decision taken by the National Coronavirus Taskforce to close kitchens and tearooms in government offices resulted in many contract workers employed in these offices being fired. The tearoom and kitchen workers were told they would be contacted when they were once again required. “We do not have the budget to pay you for the work that you are not doing,” one such minimum-wage worker was told by his boss.
As of June 2, 100 members of the medical staff of Tajrish Martyrs Hospital had been infected with coronavirus, reported Dr. Reza Jalili Khoshnood, president of the hospital. He warned that the reopening of businesses did not mean the danger coronavirus poses had diminished.
In his daily briefing, Kianoush Jahanpour also announced coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
- New coronavirus cases: 3,117
- Total cases since the outbreak: 157,562
- Total coronavirus tests conducted in Iran: 975,936
- New fatalities: 64
- Total death toll since the outbreak: 7,942
Rouhani warns that coronavirus restrictions could return if a second wave hits
For the second consecutive day, more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Iran. The provinces that are now officially “red” or on high alert include Khuzestan, North Khorasan and Lorestan, and provinces in the “orange” or serious state of alert are Fars, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Sistan and Baluchistan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Qazvin and Razavi Khorasan.
President Rouhani warned the public that restrictions may have to be reimposed to fight the coronavirus if the country is hit by a second wave of infections, after authorities announced the most new cases in a day since March. “If in any part of the country these warnings aren’t taken seriously and God forbid the outbreak of illness peaks again, the authorities will have to reimpose restrictions,” he said. “This issue will create problems for the ordinary life of citizens and will also bring serious economic damage to society.”
Announcing that for the second day in a row new coronavirus cases in Iran had surpassed 3,000, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahangiri reported coronavirus figures for the past 24 hours:
- New coronavirus cases: 3,134
- New hospitalizations: 493
- Total cases since the outbreak: 160,696
- Total coronavirus tests conducted in Iran: 997,009
- Total recovered from coronavirus: 125,206
- New fatalities: 70
- Total death toll since the outbreak: 8,012
Iran has started the process to produce a coronavirus vaccine, claimed Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raeesi, who said that for the moment nothing is certain but that it would take another 18 months for the public to have access to the vaccine.
The number of coronavirus cases in Iran’s capital has increased, reported Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. He said that coronavirus patients now show a variety of symptoms in addition to coughing, shortness of breath and respiratory problems. These symptoms include digestive problems and, among the elderly, sluggishness, lethargy, fatigue, change of mood and loss of concentration.
Previous to this it had been announced that the Persian Gulf island of Kish is “white,” meaning free of coronavirus. However, according to Kish Health Council, three new coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Kish, bringing the total of cases on the island to more than 60.
Majid Khorshidi, deputy governor of Bushehr, announced that the number of infections in the province had broken the record and if the trend continues the situation is bound to deteriorate.
Most cities in the province of Hormozgan are in a “red” state, reported Hossein Farshidi, president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. He said that a third coronavirus peak for Iran had been predicted for around this time and the considerable surge in the number of cases in Hormozgan might be that third peak.
Since the epidemic started, 1,100 patients have lost their lives to the disease in Isfahan, excluding the Kashan area, said Dr. Tahereh Changiz, president of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. She also reported that, as of June 3, two doctors on the frontline of the coronavirus battle had lost their lives as well.
The city of Shush (the ancient Susa) in Khuzestan has a population of 220,000, but its people have no access to proper health facilities, said Mohammad K’ab Amir, member of the parliament from Shush. He added that they had to travel to Dezful to be treated for coronavirus and reported that the number of coronavirus infections and fatalities had created an emergency situation in the city.
Beach facilities on the shores of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran are due to be reopened on June 4 but pools will open only when the situation in the country is back to normal, said Ilkhan Nouri, head of Iran’s Lifeguarding and Diving Federation.
With the resurgence of coronavirus the situation in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province, became critical and restrictions have been reimposed in the city, including the lockdown of hairdressers and sports clubs for 72 hours, announced Hossein Khosh-Eghbal, deputy governor of the province.
It is not clear when the new school year will start but, if health ministry officials agree, one option would be to start it sooner than originally planned, said education minister Mohsen Haj Mirzaei.
A “smart plan” for a gradual lifting of restrictions has been drawn up but if the epidemic grows “we will be forced to reimpose the restrictions”, warned Hossein Ghasemi, secretary of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Social Affairs Committee.
Iran hits a record high in new coronavirus cases
With 3,574 confirmed new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, Iran hit a record high on Thursday, June 4. The situation in the provinces of Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Kurdistan and Kermanshah is still “red” and the number of coronavirus cases in these provinces is climbing. Infections in Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan, Gilan and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari provinces are also increasing.
In his daily briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahangiri reported the official coronavirus figures for the past 24 hours:
- New coronavirus cases: 3,574
- New hospitalizations: 494
- Total cases since the outbreak: 164,270
- Total coronavirus tests conducted in Iran: 1,019,362
- New fatalities: 59
- Total death toll since the outbreak: 8,071
The number of new coronavirus cases in Khuzestan province has increased considerably in the past 24 hours, reported Ali Ehsanpour, spokesman for Ahvaz Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences. Considering the high level of activity and the crowds in Khuzestan bazaars before Eid al-Fitr, a holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, on May 24, this surge was quite predictable, he said.
Sixty percent of the people of Yazd are not paying attention to health guidelines, reported Mahmoud Nouri, vice president of Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Yazd. He warned that with the surge of coronavirus cases and the “orange” state of some neighboring provinces, Yazd is now threatened with the second peak of coronavirus.
The spread of coronavirus in Hormozgan province has picked up speed and the province is now in the grip of a third wave, said Dr. Hossein Farshidi, president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. And Mahmoud Hosseinpour, vice president of the university, reported that positive results from coronavirus tests had increased from 10 percent to 35 percent and the number of coronavirus fatalities are rising as well.
“Coronavirus is still lying in ambush for people,” warned Abtin Heydarzadeh, vice president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences. The idea that the situation is normal is incorrect, and people are not paying enough attention to measures to prevent the spread of the virus, he said.
Pointing out that Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province is in an “orange” state of alert, Eghbal Abbasi, governor of the provinces, announced that all leisure and tourist areas, green spaces and urban and rural service centers in the province remain closed and setting up tents in these areas is banned. He discouraged people in other provinces from traveling to the province.
The number of hospital visits in Tehran has increased and this was expected with the opening of public places like restaurants, said Dr. Minoo Moharez, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. She said it can be concluded that a new wave of coronavirus has started.
Coronavirus can harm the brain, which can be observed in one out of every three Covid-19 patients, said Dr. Babak Zamani, a neurologist. He added that three percent of coronavirus patients suffer strokes.
Ten percent of all coronavirus patients and seven percent of the fatalities in Iran are in Khuzestan province, said Ahmad Mashkurnia, head of East Ahvaz Medical Center.
In recent days, most of the new coronavirus patients in the city of Ardestan in Isfahan province have been children and young people between the ages of 5 and 17, reported Hasan Zabihi, head of Ardestan Health Network.
The conditions required to reopen cinemas and art centers was due to be decided by June 20, but Quran study classes can reopen immediately if they comply with health guidelines, announced Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
Serological or anti-body tests are expensive and only useful for research; there is no proof that they are useful for diagnosis, said Deputy Health Minister Ghasem Jan-Babaei.
The number of coronavirus cases in Gilan province is increasing and this increase shows that the “second peak” in the province has started, said Arsalan Salari, president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences.
Although the Ministry of Science had announced that universities and dormitories will reopen from June 6, in practice it was not possible for this to happen and entrance exams for Master’s degrees at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology will be held remotely, said Davoud Rashtchian, vice president of the university.
Rouhani Changes his Tune: “We don’t know when the coronavirus epidemic will end”
Only a week after the coronavirus outbreak in Iran was initially announced, President Hassan Rouhani declared: “From Saturday, the country will be back to normal.” Now, more than 100 days later, he is singing a very different tune. "The coronavirus epidemic will be long and we don’t know when it will end,” he said during a meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, where he again said “there is no other way” but for the economy to be active while the country was fighting coronavirus.
Rouhani also announced the continued provision of support packages to the needy until the end of the year. "Providing the needs of the health sector to fight coronavirus, providing necessary services to the public, providing essential goods and providing support packages to the needy are the government’s four important tasks, and all of them are being carried out well,” he said. "We should not plan and take action based on false hopes that have no scientific basis; experts do not recommend this.”
Child daycare centers, Koran classes, workshops and tours will reopen from June 13, said Rouhani following a meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. He added that cinemas and concert halls can reopen from June 21 provided they use only 50 percent of their capacity, and that Friday Prayers can be held not only in “white” areas but also in “yellow,” or moderate alert, areas, as long as safety and health protocols were followed.
In his daily briefing, Kianoush Jahanpour, the health ministry spokesman, announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
- New coronavirus cases: 2,269
- New hospitalizations: 527
- Total cases since the outbreak: 169,425
- Total coronavirus tests conducted in Iran: 1,060,126
- Total recovered from coronavirus: 132,038
- New fatalities: 75
- Total death toll since the outbreak: 8,209
There is no evidence that coronavirus is now less virulent than it was in March and there is no hope for having a vaccine this year, said Hossein Erfani, head of health ministry’s Department of Infectious Diseases. He added that the current wave of coronavirus in Iran was the same as the first wave. But Houshang Bazvand, governor of Kermanshah, said that there can be no doubt that the people of his province were dealing with the second peak of the epidemic.
The cities of Sanandaj and Qorveh in Kurdistan are in a dire situation, as they are threatened with a new and stronger wave of coronavirus, said Farzin Rezaei, president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences.
All ICU beds in hospitals in Bandar Abbas are filled to capacity with Covid-19 patients in critical condition, and 30 more ICU beds are scheduled to be added to the current capacity of hospitals in the province, reported Fereydoon Hemmati, the governor of Hormozgan.
According to the latest survey conducted between May 31 and June 2 by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) in cooperation with Tehran Municipality, 41 percent of respondents were “very worried” that they or members of their families could be infected with coronavirus, 22 percent are “moderately worried” and 37 percent are a “little worried.”
In the last three months Tehran metro has lost more than 200 billion tomans (over US$47.7 million) due to the coronavirus epidemic, announced Farnoush Nobakht, CEO of Tehran Metro Company.
Tasnim News Agency reported that the situation in 10 cities in Mazandaran that had previously been declared “white,” or almost clear of coronavirus, had returned to “yellow,” or a moderate state of alert. Currently there are no “white” cities in the province, the agency reported.
Estimates show that municipalities across Iran have lost more than one trillion tomans ($240 million) because of the epidemic, announced Mehdi Jamalinejad, president of Iran’s City and Village Management Organization.
Health Minister Dismisses Controversial Spokesman
In a number of Iranian provinces, including Hormozgan, Tehran, Fars, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, Kermanshah, Bushehr, Zanjan and Kurdistan, the spread of coronavirus has picked up speed. In Hormozgan, hospitals were faced with a shortage of beds and provincial officials warned that they needed three times as many beds to handle all the patients who needed hospitalization. In the Kurdistan capital of Sanandaj the number of infections doubled and health officials reported that the epidemic was out of control.
On June 9, health minister Saeed Namaki removed his “coronavirus spokesman” Dr. Kianoush Jahanpour and replaced him with Dr. Sima Sadat Lari, the Students Affairs Deputy of the ministry and a member of the Radiology Faculty of Hamedan University of Medical Science. He advised the new spokeswoman to refrain from "political games" and concentrate on the ministry's expert and specialized activities.
In the letter of appointment, Namaki pointed out that the spokesperson is required to coordinate with him before expressing any opinion in social media. Dr. Jahanpour often got into heated arguments with journalists and people on social media over various matters including the coronavirus statistics that he announced on a daily basis. He also frequently tweeted or shared tweets about domestic and international issues, including as the recent protests in the United States and expressed his personal views on the same Twitter account that he used to make official ministry announcements and give updates on the coronavirus situation.
In early April Jahanpour criticized China's coronavirus statistics, posting on Twitter that it was "a bitter joke.” He did not retreat when the Chinese ambassador in Iran, Chang Hua, demanded that he "show respect to the truths and great efforts of the people of China.” Instead, it was Iran’s foreign ministry that carefully apologized to China.
In the 24-hour period from June 8 to June 9, 2,095 new Covid-19 patients were identified, bringing the total number of cases in Iran to 175, 927, reported Dr. Sadat Lari in her first press conference, adding that, as of June 9, 2,639 of these patients were in a critical condition and were being cared for at intensive care units (ICUs). In the same time period, she said, 74 coronavirus patients had died, increasing the death toll to 8,425.
The number of coronavirus cases among patients who visit Tehran hospitals increased by 3.5 percent, reported Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. The increase in the number of people using the metro and public transportation, he said, had made compliance with social distancing more difficult.
The number of coronavirus cases doubled in Kurdistan province compared with the first phase of the epidemic, according to Sadigh Jadid-ol-Islami, vice president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. He warned that if people did not observe social distancing rules and health protocols, they must expect a new and serious surge of Covid-19 cases in Kurdistan.
The situation in Hormozgan province is critical, coronavirus wards in the hospitals were full and three times as many beds were needed to cope with the situation, warned Hossein Farshidi, president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences.
The number of coronavirus patients in Zanjan province increased during the first eight days of June. Out of a total of 15,129 tests for Covid-19 infection 2,929 were positive, said Parviz Ghezelbash, president of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences.
The second wave of coronavirus had likely started in Fars province, according to Abdolreza Ghasempour, deputy governor of Fars. He warned that, with the increase in the number of infections, restrictions such as shutting down businesses, limiting travels, canceling flights and banning buses from “red” or high alert provinces might be re-imposed in the coming days.
Coronavirus infections were on an upward curve in the province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad because it borders Khuzestan and Bushehr, which are in “red” or high alert zones, said Parviz Yazdanpanah, president of Yasuj University of Medical Sciences. He reported that 42 of the 61 cases identified on June 7 and June 8 were people who had participated in a mourning ceremony in the city of Gachsaran and a wedding in Yasuj.
Lifting restrictions and the reopening of businesses have made people believe the situation is normal, and the spread of coronavirus in Bushehr province picked up speed as a result, warned Dr. Saeed Kashmiri, the president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences. In just one month, he said, the number of infections grew 10-fold. “We have 142 intensive-care beds in this province and if there are 143 patients that need these beds then one of them will die,” he said.
The number of people using public transport in Tehran grew, and the police tried to prevent people not wearing masks from entering the metro, reported General Hossein Rahimi, commander of Greater Tehran Police. Out of a desire to protect people’s safety, the police did not agree with the reopening of public transportation in Tehran. It was the National Coronavirus Taskforce that made the final decision.
Daycare centers were due to reopen on June 13 and will be ordered to accept between one-third and 50 percent of their capacity. Parents who have to work outside of the home have priority, said Habibollah Masoudi, the vice president of Iran’s Welfare Organization.
Dr. Ehsan Mostafavi, director of the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Pasteur Institute of Iran and a member of Health Ministry’s Covid-19 Epidemiology Committee, said, based on data from serological studies in various parts of the country, it was possible that perhaps 15 million people in Iran — nearly one in five people — have been infected with coronavirus. However, he did point out that serological tests can sometimes have flaws and not give a true picture of the situation.
No prisoner in Iran has died from coronavirus in the three months since the start of the epidemic, claimed Ali Asghar Jahangir, head of Iran’s Prisons Organization. International human rights organizations have reported that coronavirus infections have been growing in Iranian prisons. For instance, on May 4, Iran Human Rights Monitor reported that at least 50 women had been infected with coronavirus in Sepidar Prison in the city of Ahvaz in Khuzestan province. Considering the normal rate of fatalities from coronavirus even under the best of circumstances outside prisons, it is difficult to accept the claim that no prisoners had died.
Iran Azad University, which has 1.5 million students and 400 campuses across Iran, announced that exams would not be held in cities that are in a “red” state, where there are high numbers of coronavirus cases, and where the risk of more people contracting the virus is severe.
Venezuela received an air cargo shipment of aid from Iran, another sign that ties between the Islamic republic and the South American country — both targets of US sanctions — are strengthening, reported Radio Free Europe. The flight contained humanitarian aid for Covid-19 patients, including test kits and medical supplies, Venezuelan Planning Minister Ricardo Menendez said. He also said President Nicolas Maduro will visit Iran as soon as possible to thank the country for the humanitarian aid and for crude oil it has recently sent to Venezuela.
Rise in Number of Child Laborers While Intelligence Minister says Virus has Created a “Beautiful Unity”
While officials of the National Coronavirus Taskforce praised the intelligence and security agencies for their successful control of organized acts of civil disobedience, the number of coronavirus infections kept growing. International organizations and observers expressed alarm, but Iranian officials presented it as the result of more and better testing, not a consequence of inefficient management of the epidemic.
Even though officials in a number of provinces declared that they were facing a second wave of coronavirus, government officials in Tehran rejected these accounts, and again insisted that the figures simply reflect better testing.
In the 24-period covering June 10 and June 11, 2,238 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 156,180, reported Sima Sadat Lari, the health ministry’s spokeswoman. She said that with the death of 78 further patients in the same period, the death toll from coronavirus currently stood at 8,584. She put the number of tests carried out in Iran at 1,173,208.
Reporting that the five provinces of Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Kerman and Hormozgan are on “red” alert, Sadat Lari said that most cities were not following health protocols adequately and the adherence to these guidelines has fallen to one-fourth of what it was previously.
The coronavirus epidemic in Iran led to higher numbers of child laborers, warned the Iran Human Rights Monitor (HRM). “Already, there are an estimated millions of children in child labor in Iran, many of whom are engaged in dangerous trades or working in hazardous environments,” reported HRM. “Studies show that with the outbreak of the coronavirus, some poor families who have lost their jobs have sent their children to the streets to earn money... Child laborers are at risk of coronavirus due to their type of work, malnutrition, lack of access to health facilities and lack of adequate shelter. But they say they can’t stay at home because ‘hunger is more deadly than the virus.’”
President Rouhani said Iran would seek to reopen the country as it entered what Tehran called the third phase of managing the coronavirus outbreak. Ignoring even official coronavirus statistics, President Rouhani triumphantly claimed that “Iran was one of the first countries that was able to reduce the pressure on people's lives and businesses by developing health protocols and to provide a logical and gradual path to return to necessary activities while maintaining people's health.”
Speaking at a meeting of the heads of the specialized committees of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, Rouhani announced that, if people observe hygiene and sanitary rules, schools, universities, mosques and all businesses will be able to resume their activities, even those businesses that were banned, such as reception halls, tourism and even foreign tourism.
In addition to the harm it has caused, coronavirus has brought blessings as well, announced Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi. He said doctors’ jobs had been elevated from a business to a heroic enterprise and had created a “beautiful unity” around the regime. “When the coronavirus epidemic started we were worried that its consequences would cause a security challenge but today we can declare that it did not turn into a security issue.”
Despite the economic challenges, said Dr. Ali Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, “acts of organized civil disobedience have been rare and a relative stability has taken hold of the country’s political and social life. This is a result of the effective measures of the Intelligence Ministry, the police, the Revolutionary Guards and its Intelligence Organization.” Zali, a former president of Iran’s Medical Council, claimed “there can be no doubt that the Intelligence Ministry has done some useful analyses about the coronavirus issue and we ask for these analyses to be made available to the taskforce so we will be better able to inform people.” He did not elaborate or explain exactly how the Intelligence Ministry would be able to help.
The damage caused by the coronavirus epidemic in Razavi Khorasan has been enormous and repairing it will be beyond the capabilities of the government, said Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday Imam of the holy city of Mashhad. He said that these economic problems would not be solved until the shrine [of Imam Reza] is reopened and the pilgrims return.
Until the middle of May, coronavirus transmission followed a clustered pattern in the province of Bushehr, but by June 11 the pattern had morphed and the disease was transmitted at the level of the whole population, said Saeed Kashmiri, president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences.
The coronavirus epidemic had spread to such an extent that everybody must wear a mask in places where social distancing is not adequately practiced, announced Deputy Health Minister Ghasem Jan-Babaei.
South Khorasan entered a new phase of the coronavirus epidemic and Kambiz Mehdizadeh, the president of Birjand University of Medical Sciences, warned people to follow health protocols,
“In this difficult situation” the health ministry must come to the aid of Kermanshah and help the province overcome the shortages of masks and other equipment, said Houshang Bazvand, the governor of Kermanshah.
By the order of the health ministry, only the ministry and its spokesperson are allowed to announce daily coronavirus statistics in the provinces, the public relations office of Ahvaz Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences in Khuzestan reported.
President Rouhani Pushes “Adaption to Coronavirus” Policy to Boost Economy
The Iranian Health Ministry confirmed 75 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus in the 24 hours between June 11 and June 12, bringing the nationwide death toll to 8,659. A further 2,369 people tested positive for Covid-19, raising the total to 182,545, reported the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari. She said that 144,649 people had so far recovered and been discharged from hospitals, while 2,739 patients remain in critical condition. Some 1.19 million tests have been conducted in the country to date, Sadat Lari added.
She also reported that the five provinces of Kurdistan, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan and East Azerbaijan are in a “red” state of alert.
Reporting that the number of coronavirus infections in Kurdistan province was increasing, Bahman Morad-Nia, the governor of the province, said that the situation in the provincial capital of Sanandaj is critical and in the coming week the bazaars in border cities and tourist sites will be closed.
Daycare centers will reopen on Saturday, June 13, but reception halls will remain closed, announced Tehran’s provincial governor Anooshirvan Mohseni Bandpey, who warned that the number of people who go to medical centers to be examined has increased by 3.5 percent and if people do not follow health protocols strict measures would be taken.
Saeed Babaei, head of children’s affairs at Iran’s Welfare Organization, announced that all daycare centers will reopen following health protocols regardless whether they are in a “white,” “yellow” or “red” state of alert, but the process and the number of admissions will be different than before.
Implementing the "Adaptation to Coronavirus" phase does not mean the end of the fight against the virus, nor does it mean people should stop heeding health protocols, President Rouhani told health minister Saeed Namaki during a phone conversation. "We must try to complete the third stage of the management of the disease as part of the 'Adaptation to Coronavirus' policy with full compliance with all protocols and provide the necessary training and information implemented in the best way in the country so that people's life, livelihood and health are preserved altogether...The goal of implementing this stage is protecting people's health and life, alongside dynamic activity of businesses.”
Taleghani Hospital in the Khuzestan port city of Abadan was at full capacity, said Shokrollah Salmanzadeh, the president of Abadan University of Medical Sciences. He criticized the city’s Imam Khomeini Hospital for only designating 30 beds to coronavirus patients.
The situation of the epidemic in the province of Lorestan was alarming and every day around 200 new coronavirus cases are identified, warned Mohammad Reza Nikbakht, president of Lorestan University of Medical Sciences.
If coronavirus statistics were broken down by province, it would help people to be more careful and the governors to plan more effectively, said Reza Nejati, spokesman for Khuzestan Coronavirus Taskforce. He also reported that all hospital beds in the province were filling up with coronavirus patients.
President Rouhani Warns of Re-imposed Restrictions if Health Rules Are Not Observed
While coronavirus cases exploded in the provinces of Kurdistan, Bushehr, Hormozgan, Fars and Kermanshah, it appeared that the Iranian Health Ministry was more preoccupied with how and who will announce the figures for infections and fatalities than with taking steps to control the epidemic. In Bushehr, in the three-week period up to June 13, more people died from coronavirus than in the whole country in the three months following the initial coronavirus outbreak.
On June 12 and June 13, 2,410 new coronavirus cases were identified, bringing the total for Iran to 187,427, according to the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari. In the same 24-hour period, she said, 71 coronavirus patients had died, raising the death toll to 8,837.
Iran will re-impose restrictions to stem a surge in coronavirus cases if health regulations are not observed, President Rouhani said on June 13 at a meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. While compliance with health protocols was as high as 80 percent in mid-May, it had fallen to 20 percent, Rouhani said in a televised speech. He blamed the surge on travelers spreading the coronavirus to previously low-risk provinces.
Rouhani expressed concern about mass prayers at the recently re-opened Imam Reza shrine, Iran’s largest Shia Muslim religious complex, in the northeast of the country. “If there is no cooperation, we will have to re-impose the restrictions,” Rouhani said, adding that adherence to the health protocols were needed “in order to keep businesses open.”
Of the 201 coronavirus beds in the 225-bed Tohid Hospital in Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan, 189 had been filled, said Farzin Rezaei, president of Kurdistan University of Medical Science. He reported that 50 coronavirus patients had been hospitalized at two other hospitals, Be’sat and Kosar, but that Kosar Hospital had run out of beds for coronavirus patients. According to Dr. Rezaei, the increase in the number of coronavirus patients had been “explosive” and, as of June 13, 192 of them have died.
The rate of the hospitalization of coronavirus patients who go to the hospitals fora checkup increased from 3.5 to 5 percent and in 24 hours, 253 new coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Tehran, reported Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. He warned that the control of the virus in Tehran was “fragile.”
In terms of social distancing, Tehran ranks the lowest among Iranian cities and social distancing in the metro, which was at one time 57 percent has fallen to 37 percent as a result of more people using it, according to Anooshirvan Mohseni Bandpey, the governor of Tehran province. He also reported that the National Coronavirus Taskforce will discuss extending prisoners’ leave of absence in its scheduled June 20 meeting.
Abdolreza Ghasempour, the deputy governor of Fars province, warned the policy of forbidding universities for medical sciences from publishing coronavirus statistics by province was dangerous. He said if there was no transparency and people were not informed of exact figures about the spread of the virus they would begin to think that the epidemic was over.
On Friday, June 12, Fars province had the highest number of coronavirus infections since the epidemic started, and yet Shiraz University of Medical Sciences is not allowed to announce these figures. If these statistics were provided to the media and the public, said Abdolrasoul Hemmati, the vice president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, it would increase people’s awareness about the epidemic,
The number of infections in Bushehr province grew fast in the first two weeks of June. The number of fatalities in the last week of May and first two weeks of June exceeded the province’s death toll in the first three months of the epidemic, according to Saeed Kashmiri, president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences. He warned that if the trend continued, the situation in Bushehr would become critical and social restrictions would have to be re-imposed.
There were 365 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Kermanshah, an increase of 200 from the two previous weeks, according to Mahmoud Reza Moradi, president of Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. Kermanshah, he said, was at the peak of the epidemic and it was predicted that 1,000 beds would soon be needed for coronavirus patients. And yet, Dr. Moradi added, even in this critical situation only 20 percent of the people in the province heeded health protocols.
Almost all rural and urban areas of Hormozgan province were seriously threatened by coronavirus, said Hossein Farshidi, president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. The number of infections in the province was rapidly increasing and had led to the death of many people, and a significant number of them were not suffering from any underlying disease, warned Dr. Mohammad Tamadon-Dar, president of Bandar Abbas Treatment Center. He urged the public and Iranian officials to take the situation seriously.
Receptions halls in in areas where “white” and “yellow” [less serious] alerts were in place were due to be reopened and will be allowed to function at 50 percent of their capacity, reported Azizollah Shahbazi, the government’s high representative to Alborz province. Specialized exhibitions, public libraries and coffee shops will reopen and will observe health protocols, he said.
A third of all daily new coronavirus infections were in Khuzestan province, according to Karim Hosseini, member of the parliament from the province. All intensive care unit beds in the province were full and the situation was critical, he said, calling on the health minister and members of the National Coronavirus to take action in the province, insisting there was “no doubt” that such an infection rate was not merely because people were ignoring health protocols.
Official Daily Death Toll Tops 100 for First time in Two Months
The number of daily deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topped 100 in Iran for the first time in two months on June 14, the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state TV. “Today it was very painful for us to announce a triple digit statistic... this virus is unpredictable and shifting,” she said.
Iran recorded 107 deaths between June 13 and June 14, taking the total to 8,837. The total number of cases in the country reached 187,427. The last time Iran announced more than 100 deaths in one day was on April 13, when the tally was 111.
According to the latest report by the health ministry, the coronavirus epidemic has started to peak or is on an upward curve in 14 provinces: Hormozgan, Lorestan, Kurdistan, East Azerbaijan, Ardebil, North Khorasan, Qazvin, Markazi, Yazd, Alborz, Hamedan, Mazandaran, Golestan and Kerman. The epidemic recently peaked in West Azerbaijan and Semnan, but inconsistency in the data did not allow reliable analysis of the situation of the epidemic in the eight other provinces: Zanjan, Isfahan, Ilam, Bushehr, Fars, Qom, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad and Tehran.
Hospitals in Kurdistan ran out of beds and were unable to accept new patients. By June 14, the number of people hospitalized was seven times more than what it had been during the previous surge in cases, according to Ebrahim Ghaderi, vice president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. Since the number of coronavirus fatalities is very likely to rise in the coming week, he said, the next 20 days are likely to turn into “days of mourning.”
According to Ghaderi, the situation was worrying in the cities of Sanandaj, the provincial capital, and Marivan, which were experiencing their first wave of cases. He said it was likely that a second wave would increase the number of patients in Saghez as well. He said that in rural areas the farmers cannot stop their agricultural work so they are often late in going to treatment centers. As a result, many of them lose their lives.
On June 14, 393 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Kurdistan, 67,000 were quarantining at home, and there were more than 5,000 people who had tested positive for the virus, reported Bahman Morad-Nia, the governor of Kurdistan. However, he warned, we must expect more coronavirus fatalities in the coming weeks.
Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce said that by July new special beds for patients with “acute respiratory syndrome” will be available . He warned that in the fall coronavirus might return with more intensity and the universities for medical sciences across Iran had started to prepare for such an eventuality by acquiring strategic necessities and by storing protective gear.
According to Dr. Zali, the health ministry estimated that approximately five to seven percent of coronavirus patients would die from stroke, and said that underlying ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure are certain to affect the mortality rate as well.
A one-week lockdown of Hormozgan province is the only way to fight and to control the coronavirus epidemic in the province, said Abtin Amiri, member of Bandar Abbas City Council. Otherwise, he warned, coronavirus would spread faster and claim more victims.
In a letter to President Rouhani, members of the parliament from Hormozgan informed him that there was only one coronavirus test lab in the entire province and the lack of necessary and basic facilities and equipment was one of the most important factors in turning coronavirus into a disaster for Hormozgan.
Between June 4 and June 14, the number of coronavirus infections in Isfahan province increased by between three and five percent and the number of hospitalizations had increased to 450 from 350 the previous week, said Tahereh Changiz, the president of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.
Some academics and influential figures in Hormozgan province have concealed the fact that they have contracted the virus and therefore contributed to its spread by refusing to be quarantined, Fereydoon Hemmati, the governor of Hormozgan, claimed.
As of June 14, 57 percent of people of Gorgan in Golestan province had contracted coronavirus, claimed Hadi Haghshenas, the governor of Golestan.
Why was Iran’s outbreak so severe? “It’s now clear that by the time the government made public Iran’s first virus deaths in Qom on February 19, the disease had been filling hospital beds for weeks,” an article on the Bloomberg Quint website said. “The government hesitated to quarantine the city, home to the nation’s largest theological seminary, describing such a step as ‘medieval.’ It was also slow to halt flights from China, its main economic and geopolitical partner, and to close holy sites such as Qom’s shrine of Fatima Masoumeh, from which Shiite pilgrims carried the virus across the Middle East. After enacting movement restrictions, it was quick to allow people to return to work in April, which may have contributed to the rebound in infections. By June Iran was reporting record daily numbers of new cases.”
At least 7,400 Nurses Infected with Coronavirus From May to June
The death toll from COVID-19 in Iran surpassed 9,000 on June 16, while more than 152,000 positive cases have recovered from the disease. Speaking at a daily press conference, the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the coronavirus has taken the lives of 115 patients during the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 9,065. The total number of people tested positive for COVID-19 in Iran has risen to 192,439 following the detection of 2,563 new cases since yesterday, she added.
Of the new cases detected over the past 24 hours, 939 patients have been admitted to the hospital, the spokeswoman said. At least 152,675 patients have recovered from the coronavirus infection so far and have been discharged from hospitals across Iran, said Sadat Lari. Among those undergoing treatment in medical centers at present, 2,815 coronavirus patients have critical health conditions because of a more severe infection, she reported.
Of the 31 provinces of Iran, the 10 provinces of Khuzestan, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Razavi Khorasan, Lorestan, Kermanshah, Golestan, Hormozgan, Kurdistan and Sistan and Baluchistan are in the “red” state, said Sadat Lari.
Friday Prayers will restart across the country in 800 locations including Tehran on June 19, announced Ali Nouri, deputy chairman of Friday Imams Policy Council. The prayers will be held according to sanitary protocols, he said.
In a letter to President Rouhani, two members of the High Council of Iran’s Nursing Organization reminded him of the pressures on the nursing community due to the coronavirus epidemic and pointed out that in the past four months at least 7,400 nurses have been infected with coronavirus and at least 18 nurses have died. They informed him that for each hospital bed in Iran only 0.8 nurse is available in a 24-hour period.
In another letter to President Rouhani, three senior members of Iran’s Medical Council expressed their deep concern over the resurgence of coronavirus and called on him to base his policies on the “priority of people’s health and lives” over any other consideration.
In the past week the number coronavirus infections in Bushehr has increased by the total number of infections in previous four months, said Majid Khorshidi, Bushehr Deputy Governor for Security. He said that the ban on revealing daily coronavirus statistics does not help anybody. On the contrary, he said, it is counter-productive because if people are informed of these figures they would exercise more discipline in adhering to sanitary protocols.
Wearing masks in certain places like metro, buses and planes is mandatory, announced Mohammad Hossein Heydari, director general of health ministry’s Inspections Office. He said that the highest number of complaints about ignoring sanitary protocols is directed at government offices that offer services like insurance to people and where lines are long and packed.
In the past 24 hours, 341 new patients in Kurdistan have tested positive for coronavirus, reported Farzin Rezaei, president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, and warned that if people continue to ignore sanitary protocols the coming month would turn into “a month of mourning” for the people of Kurdistan.
Coronavirus Fatalities Spike as Adherence to Social Distancing Drops
For the fourth day in a row, on Wednesday, June 17, Iran's coronavirus deaths, which had been below 100 since April 14, rose well above 100. Health officials expressed concerns that a second peak could be imminent.
The health ministry’s spokeswoman, Dr. Sima Sadat Lari, said that over the last 24 hours, 120 people had lost their lives and 2,612 had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The numbers brought Iran's total coronavirus cases to 195,059 and the fatalities to 9,185 since late February.
Reiterating that no province in Iran was free from coronavirus, Senior Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi warned that the adherence to social distancing had declined in Iran. For instance, it had fallen to nine percent in Tehran, which would lead to disastrous consequences and might force the authorities to re-impose restrictions and lockdowns. He called on prosecutors in provinces to take serious action against organizers of wedding and mourning ceremonies.
Harirchi said only 500 coronavirus tests per day were being conducted in Kurdistan province and the province was currently one of three provinces with the highest number of infections. He added that it was estimated that fatalities would continue to rise in Kurdistan.
Another deputy health minister, Alireza Raeesi, said infections were rising and if health protocols and social distancing were ignored and the wearing of facemasks did not become mandatory, hospitals would run out of beds and the government might be forced to bring back lockdowns, echoing what Harirchi had said. He reported that 290,000 businesses were locked down because they failed to follow sanitary guidelines and while around 78 percent of businesses were once observing health protocols, the number had since fallen to only 23 percent.
Hormozgan province is in a “red” state of high alert and to prevent the spread of coronavirus, bazaars, commercial complexes, inessential businesses, parks and entertainment centers in the province would be closed for three days, said Fereydoon Hemmati, governor of Hormozgan. He also reported that all villages in the province have been quarantined for two weeks and unnecessary travel to them had been banned.
Since May 21, the number of coronavirus fatalities in Hormozgan increased four-fold, from 32 to 132, said Hossein Farshidi, president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. He also reported that 250 medical staff employees in the province had contracted coronavirus. He said that currently, one out of every two coronavirus tests one is positive. Accord to Dr. Farshidi, 85 percent of patients who require ventilators die, even though most of them are not suffering from underlying diseases.
Over the last 24 hours, 341 new coronavirus cases were identified in Kurdistan, 417 patients were hospitalized in general wards and 79 have been sent to intensive care units, reported Dr. Farzin Rezaei, president of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. Official figures maintain that, as of June 17, 210 people had died from Covid-19 in Kurdistan.
The number of pregnant women infected with coronavirus has increased and in the last three weeks, close to 30 babies were born from mothers with Covid-19 in Kermanshah, reported Dr. Shiva Kazemi, head of the Obstetrics School at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. She said that pregnancy generally weakens the immune system of mothers, but said it was still not known whether coronavirus is directly transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy or if is transmitted by respiratory drops from the mother after birth.
Dr. Mehrzad Lotfi, president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, warned that the number of new coronavirus cases in Fars province was unprecedented and that the province could return to the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, meaning that restrictions could be enforced again.
Dr. Abdolreza Fazel, president of Golestan University of Medical Sciences, warned that Golestan province was once again in a state of “red” alert. As of June 17, six children have died, he said. He warned that with the increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations, the quality of care had deteriorated and the number of fatalities was bound to increase.
With the fast-moving increase in the number of infections in Bushehr province, the province's test lab is falling behind and, because of this, only vulnerable people can be tested, said Abdol Mohammad Khajeian, vice president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences. He pointed out that the epidemic had not yet peaked in the province.
The Ministry of Health published a list of provinces that would be too dangerous to visit for people’s summer vacations, as three-digit numbers of fatalities were reported on a daily basis. The list included Khuzestan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Razavi Khorasan, Lorestan, Kermanshah, Golestan, Hormozgan, Kurdistan and Sistan and Baluchistan. But, as Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi had said, no Iranian province was completely free of coronavirus.
Rouhani Pushes Economic Plans Despite Surge in Coronavirus Cases
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations were on an upward curve in the provinces of Kurdistan, Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Sistan and Baluchistan and East Azerbaijan and the provinces of Zanjan, Hamedan, Markazi, Gilan, Fars, Razavi Khorasan, South Khorasan and Chaharmahal and Bakhtiar were getting close to being on “red” alert. “Do not build the country’s economy on the coffins of the people of Hormozgan,” pleaded a member of Bandar Abbas City Council in the city. He said the same statement was true for many provinces across Iran.
On June 18, 2,596 more cases of coronavirus infections were identified, bringing the total for the country to 193,647, health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Salari announced. During the same 24 hours, 87 more Covid-19 patients died, increasing the official total of coronavirus fatalities to 9,272.
However, President Rouhani continued to push for economic activities to resume. ”Economic activities are possible despite the virus outbreak," he said at the inauguration ceremony for roads and urban development projects, reminding people that restrictions were less extreme than they had been. He then added: “but we cannot continue these activities if they do not observe health protocols.”
It had not been determined when Iranian students would go back to school, but education minister Mohsen Haji Mirzaei said it could be that a limited number of children would be allowed in schools at one time, and suggested that students could be divided into groups and attend school on different days. He also said that parts of the country did not have internet access and, in order to enable students in those areas to access the ministry’s Social Network of Students (SHAD in Persian) for remote learning, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology had agreed to connect all schools in the country to the internet by September 21.
It is expected that Iran will be fighting coronavirus for another year and fatalities from the virus would continue, said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi. He reported that 10 provinces were witnessing an increase in cases, adding that Kurdistan province had reached a peak in the number of cases for the first time since the outbreak. According to Harirchi, provinces were witnessing high numbers of cases in June despite having gone through major lockdowns in late March and early April. He said some provinces were peaking due to local customs and traditions, and large gatherings had resumed. As an example, he said 120 people had contracted the virus after attending the same wedding.
Harirchi also reported that the National Coronavirus Taskforce would pass an ordinance allowing hard-hit provinces to make their own decisions in the face of the epidemic.
Mohammad Reza Moradi, president of Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, said the province was on the cusp of its peak. He said according to estimates, the number of hospitalizations in Kermanshah due to coronavirus would reach 500 by June 30.
Coronavirus cases were high in Gilan province and on some days in mid-June, 50 to 60 new patients were being hospitalized, according to Abtin Heydarzadeh, vice president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences.
Saeed Kashmiri, secretary of the Bushehr Coronavirus Taskforce, said that since the announcement of daily statistics regarding cases was not allowed, he would inform the public about the rate of infections on a weekly basis. According to Kashmiri, around 40 percent of coronavirus patients in the province had displayed no symptoms and between 15 to 20 percent of people infected needed to be hospitalized. He added that where the province had at one time reported that five people with the virus were being admitted to hospital, that number had risen to at least 60 a day.
A basic calculation based on the numbers above suggests that even if only 60 patients were hospitalized each day, every day between 300 and 400 new cases were being identified in Bushehr province.
The governor of Markazi province said it was an illusion that the situation is back to normal, and this had helped induce a second wave of coronavirus in the province. If the situation became critical, Ali Aghazadeh said, the Coronavirus Taskforce would enforce severe restrictions. He reported that in the period from June 8 to June 18, the average daily number of Covid-19 patients in the province had increased from 50 to 68, emphasising that the development was alarming.
Along with his plea for the country’s economy to not be built "on the coffins of the people of Hormozgan,” Bandar Abbas City Council member Kianoush Jahanbakhsh challenged provincial officials to answer a question: Why, when governors in provinces and cities in a less critical situation are able to impose quarantines on their own authority, are Hormozgan authorities still waiting for an order from the president?
“Because we are an economic hub and the country’s revenue comes from here, we cannot sacrifice the people,” Jahanbakhsh said. “Mr. President apparently has no correct understanding of the crisis in provinces.” He added that, in any case, the responsibility of the catastrophe and its consequences rests with the National Coronavirus Taskforce.
Despite the decision by the Friday Imams Policy Council to resume Friday Prayers across the country, the provincial councils of Hormozgan, Yazd and Golestan announced that Friday Prayers will not be held anywhere in Hormozgan or in the “red” cities and areas of the other two provinces.
If the number of infections and fatalities in East Azerbaijan province rises and 90 percent of the people continue to ignore the danger of holding wedding and mourning ceremonies and parties, restrictions would be re-imposed in the province, warned Ali-Yar Rastgoo, deputy governor of East Azerbaijan.
Although coronavirus infections in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province have been fluctuating and, up to now, there have been seven cycles of rise and fall, the number of infections has broken a record in the past week and continues to rise, said Majid Shirani, president of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari University of Medical Sciences.
The Dean of the Mazandaran University of Medical Science confirmed 9 cases of coronavirus in the dormitory of the university and said the students have been quarantined and the exams are canceled. According to the dean, none of the nine students show any symptoms and are in good health.
The Iranian Volleyball Federation postponed competitions in the country due to coronavirus once again. After stopping volleyball activities like the rest of the world when coronavirus struck for the first time, the Iranian federation has now been forced to make the same decision once again.
With “Dynamic Social Distancing”, Provincial and Local Officials Can Impose or Lift Restrictions
The provinces of Kurdistan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan, Bushehr, West Azerbaijan and Sistan and Baluchistan were still in a “red” state of alert and hospitalizations and fatalities in the provinces of Alborz, East Azerbaijan, Mazandaran, Arak and Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad increased. In response to the government’s failure to take serious action, a group of activists and NGOs in Kurdistan called for the quarantine of the provincial capital of Sanandaj and other hard-hit cities in the province, but the government was reluctant to set nationwide standards for wearing masks and social distancing.
In the previous 24-hour period, the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said, 2,615 new cases of coronavirus had been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in Iran to 200,262. During the same period, 120 coronavirus patients died and the total death toll now officially stood at 9,392. She said that, as of June 17, 1,370,718 coronavirus tests had been carried out in Iran.
Alborz province began to experience a second peak of the pandemic, according to Dr. Hasan Inanlou, vice president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. He added that in recent days, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations and fatalities had increased significantly. Dr. Inanlou said controlling the second peak was much more difficult than managing the first because the first peak had already inflicted financial damage on families and they now have less energy and means to fight the pandemic.
One coronavirus fatalities in Bandar Abbas was a 10-year-old girl who had not been suffering from an underlying condition. This should sound the alarm about Covid-19 infection among children, said Dr. Fatemeh Noroozian, spokeswoman for Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences.
A group of activists and NGOs in Kurdistan continued to call for quarantines in the province. Prior to this, the president of Sanandaj City Council and a member of the parliament from the city had put the same request to government officials but, they had received no answers.
With the increase in the number of carriers who show no symptoms and hospitalized patients suspected of having Covid-19 infections, Babol University of Medical Sciences in Mazandaran province announced that it would not allow visitors in the hospitals under its supervision until further notice.
Positive test results in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad province doubled and the epidemic in the province was still on an upward curve, reported Dr. Parviz Yazdanpanah, president of Yasuj University of Medical Sciences.
The medical staff in Markazi province were suffering from exhaustion and within a week the number of hospitalizations in the province has gone from 10 to 54, said Dr. Mohammad Jamalian, president of Arak University of Medical Sciences. He begged people not to participate in packed wedding and mourning ceremonies.
Every day, 30 percent of coronavirus tests carried out in East Azerbaijan are positive, said Dr. Simin Khayyatzadeh, the head of the province’s Contagious Diseases Group. She warned that in recent weeks the number of coronavirus fatalities had gone up, even among young people.
Although the number of coronavirus infections and the number of new cases in Khuzestan had been stable, the province is still in a “red” state of alert, reported Reza Nejati, a spokesman for the Khuzestan Coronavirus Taskforce. Nevertheless, he announced that religious shrines would reopen for a specific number of hours per day.
Under the designation of “dynamic social distancing,” the National Coronavirus Taskforce allowed provincial officials to apply restrictions based on the needs of each locality and not on the basis of “one size fits all” for the entire province.
“The restrictions should be implemented in a point-by-point and not integrated manner in the province, and at the same time, these restrictions should be implemented only with the coordination and permission of specialized medical, social and security committees,” President Rouhani had said a day earlier.
The policy of “dynamic social distancing” stipulates that the officials of each province and city decide on the restrictions, including wearing masks, or lifting of restrictions depending on the data available for their area, and on the level of alert in that area, Hossein Erfani, the head of the health ministry’s Contagious Diseases Department said, adding that there There was no prescription for the whole country.
Government Considers Making Wearing Masks Compulsory
With at least seven provinces officially on red alert, it became obvious that the claim that Iran has controlled coronavirus was a political move without scientific basis. President Rouhani conceded that the fight against Covid-19 was not going to be a short one and people must be patient. He announced that the schools will reopen on September 5, two weeks sooner than usual.
Two weeks after a recommendation from the World Health Organization that masks be worn in public places, the National Coronavirus Taskforce announced that it would approve a plan for wearing masks in specific places.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, President Rouhani said that it was impossible to predict when the coronavirus epidemic would end and warned that people should be prepared for a long-term fight. The meeting included discussion about the need to wear masks in some spaces and areas, and Rouhani said afterward:"it was decided that, after the necessary reviews that will be made at the next meetings of the taskforce, this decision will be made, in addition to the fact that the implementation of this plan must also be conditional on the availability of inexpensive masks to the people in abundance.”
Conceding that some provinces might be moving out of a peak of coronavirus cases, he said the epidemic could peak again in other provinces and called “on all Iranians to continue fighting for the sake of dear Iran and to protect the achievements of the fight against coronavirus patiently and without any worries.”
Regarding the availability of necessary goods, Rouhani said: “Despite the current situation in the country and although exports have stopped in recent months, great efforts have been made to provide the currency needed to import essential goods and there is no problem in this regard.”
Speaking about education, he said: ”According to the decision of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, the academic year of universities will begin on September 7, 2020, in two parts: online and face-to-face. The school year [for children in their early years] will start on September 5, but the opening will be allowed in accordance with the province, region and their needs. He said students would be present in schools on alternate days and schools will be open six days a week.
The provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Golestan, Razavi Khorasan, Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan and East Azerbaijan were on “red” alert, announced Sima Sadat Lari, the health ministry’s spokeswoman. She reported that between June 19 and June 20, 2,322 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed, bringing the total to 202,584, and 115 more people had died of Covid-19. The official number of coronavirus fatalities stood at 9,507 on June 20.
Hospitals linked to the police and Revolutionary Guards have been treating coronavirus patients in Hormozgan province, said Deputy Health Minister Ghasem Jan-Babaei, but he warned that the situation in the port city of Bandar Abbas was not good and the city will witness many more infections in the coming two weeks and the situation will become dangerous.
According to a decision made by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, governors of provinces on red alert are able to bring their proposals to the taskforce’s Social Committee, chaired by the Interior Minister, and, if approved by the president, they will be given the necessary authority to make their own decisions about coronavirus in specific areas, reported Houshang Bazvand, the governor of Kermanshah.
In an open letter to the governor of Hormozgan province, more than 300 doctors and medical staff in the province wrote that President Rouhani’s claim that there was a “white” or coronavirus-clear status in Hormozgan was a prelude to the “current black [dangerous] situation” and his insistence on refusing to quarantine the province opened the way for the continuation of what was a human and national disaster. They asked the governor to impose a total quarantine for two weeks in Hormozgan and make wearing masks and social distancing mandatory in offices and businesses.
Pointing out that cinemas, theaters and cultural centers will reopen on June 21 while following health protocols, senior health ministry official Mohsen Farhadi reported that reception halls in “white” [alert-free] and “yellow” [moderate alert] cities would reopen at the same time, but they would stay closed in “red” [high alert] areas.
While earlier coronavirus test results in Mashhad showed that between 20 to 25 percent of suspected cases tested positive, toward the third week of June, the it rose to 40 percent, reported Mehdi Gholian, vice president of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences.
The government refused to release the number of coronavirus infections by province and, as a result, people are not adequately informed about the spread of Covid-19 where they live and/or work. Pointing out the Fars province is now witnessing a second peak of the epidemic, Jafar Ghaderi, member of the parliament from Shiraz, called on the health ministry to announce daily statistics by province so that people would take the situation seriously and follow sanitary guidelines.
Since people cannot eat while wearing masks and since people sit next to each other in restaurants, coronavirus can spread much more successfully in eating establishments, warned Dr. Minoo Moharez, member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce.
Contrary to predictions, warm weather increased the number of coronavirus infections and there was no sign that the rate of infections was falling, said Dr. Payam Tabarsi, head of the Center for Epidemiological Studies of Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital. He warned that the observance of sanitary guidelines had fallen and the number of infections has risen.
Like other parts of Hormozgan province, the city of Bashagard faced an increase in coronavirus infections, but the one hospital in the city had no intensive care unit or beds equipped to deal with Covid-19 patients in a critical condition.
Health Minister: Coronavirus in Iran For Another Two Years
Contradicting earlier claims by Iranian officials, health minister Saeed Namaki said that, according to official estimates, Iranians would “have to live with coronavirus for another two years.” He likened the virus to an animal, saying that it could “bite and kick.”
Iran is still going through the “first wave” of Covid-19 even though this wave might take different forms in different provinces, said Namaki, and warned that even the provinces that might appear to have passed the first wave have not done so in reality.
According to Namaki, of the total number of people with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Iran, around 78 percent suffered from obesity, diabetes and other underlying diseases, adding that obesity played a major role in the death of patients under 50, but 12.6 of those who died from coronavirus had no underlying diseases.
“A severe and structural "triple crisis" (socio-economic, political, and ecological) is facing the Islamic Republic of Iran four decades after its inception and has triggered massive nationwide protests over the last two and a half years,” wrote Ali Fathollah-Nejad for the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution. “Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the country is facing a new set of crises: a dual public health and economic crisis, compounded by an oil price crisis. Iran’s worsening economic and socio-economic conditions, coupled with sustained public disillusionment regarding the regime’s ability to meaningfully address them, could pave the way for renewed street mobilizations against the regime once the pandemic subsides.”
In response to the worsening situation, education minister Mohsen Haji-Mirzaei announced an “odd and even” plan for schools with large numbers of students. According to this plan, half of the students of such schools will attend classes on odd days of the week while the other half will go to school on even days.
On the first day of summer, 116 people died from Covid-19, bringing the total number of fatalities from coronavirus in Iran to 9,623, reported Dr. Sima Sadat-Lari, the health ministry’s spokeswoman. During the same 24-hour period, she said, 2,322 were diagnosed with coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 204,952.
Dr. Hossein Erfani, the head of the health ministry’s Contagious Diseases Department, said that a vaccine would not be available for another year and the Covid-19 epidemic in Iran is still not under control. Dr. Erfani’s statement contradicts earlier claims by President Rouhani and a number of health ministry officials that the epidemic in Iran is under control.
The number of Covid-19 infections in Tehran is increasing while the observance of health protocols is declining, said Dr. Alireza Zali, director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. According to Zali, Tehran is facing not just coronavirus but “coronavirus plus.” In addition to its complex biological aspects, the impact of the virus also has social, cultural and economic dimensions and will change many things across Tehran province.
Ali Khaki-Sedigh, Deputy Minister of Science, Research and Technology, announced that, in the coming academic year, universities will reopen depending on how prepared they are. His ministry suggested September 5 as the reopening date and courses will be taught by a combination of physical and virtual classes.
According to the latest report by the Coronavirus Epidemiology Committee, the epidemic is either in an upward trend or has entered its peak in 12 provinces: Semnan, Isfahan, Qazvin, Fars, Hormozgan, Zanjan, Lorestan, Hamedan, Razavi Khorasan, Alborz, Tehran and Gilan. In the nine provinces of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, Khuzestan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, Bushehr, North Khorasan and Markazi, the epidemic has recently peaked.
Ali Aghazadeh, governor of Markazi province who had earlier reported that coronavirus hospitalizations in the province had grown five-fold in 15 days, tweeted that he had contracted the virus and is now in quarantine. “We should take coronavirus seriously,” he advised.
According to available data, 30 percent of the population of Semnan province have been infected with coronavirus and the other 70 percent remain vulnerable, said Dr. Navid Danaee, president of Semnan University of Medical Sciences. “We are worried about a second wave,” he warned.
Of the 11,436 people who have been tested for coronavirus in the Khuzestani city of Dezful, 3,700, or 33 percent, have tested positive, reported Shapur Masoudi-Far, vice president of Dezful University of Medical Sciences.
According to a decision taken by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, indoor swimming pools and sports academies in Tehran province are allowed to reopen from today, June 21, said Reza Gol-Mohammadi, director general of the province’s Sports Bureau.
Until three weeks ago eight cities in Golestan province were clear of coronavirus infections but now no city in the province is in a “white” or “clear" state, reported Nahid Jafari, president of Golestan Medical Center.
Is Alcohol More Dangerous in Iran than Coronavirus?
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari reported that hospitalizations in provinces of Khuzestan, Hormozgan and West Azerbaijan were higher than other provinces, although the rate of fatalities in Khuzestan has declined. On the other hand, the rate of infections in the cities of Abadan, Bandar Abbas and Iranshahr and in the provinces of Fars, Golestan and Zanjan, continues to climb.
During this period, a Cambridge, UK-based research group posed a disturbing question: Is alcohol more dangerous than coronavirus in Iran? According to Iran’s Ministry of Health, the Cambridge Core website, which publishes academic content from Cambridge University Press, reported: “as of March 31, 2020, 3,117 poisonings (ages 4 to 72 years) were caused by alcohol consumption, which caused the death of 320 patients. The alcohol poisoning mortality rate is about 10.3 percent [compared to 6.1 percent for Covid-19]. Also, about 2 percent (62 people) of alcohol poisoning cases lead to blindness or low vision, and about 9.1 percent (284 people) lead to kidney disease.
“Recent rumors in Iran about the positive effect of alcohol consumption on the prevention of severe acute respiratory syndrome [from] coronavirus...infection, and its treatment effects on people with Covid-19 led to a rise in alcohol consumption and poisoning,” the article states. “Medical officials have warned that the death cases from alcohol consumption in some cities have surpassed the death cases from Covid-19. All this while the consumption of alcohol and its derivatives in Iran as an Islamic country is prohibited by law and religion.”
Water Shortage in Prison
Iran Human Rights Monitor reported its concerns over coronavirus in prisons in late June.
“Hundreds of prisoners at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary face severe water shortages despite the coronavirus outbreak in the prison,” the report said. “As of Friday, June 19, the water for ward 5 of the prison has been cut off, and the prisoners in this part of the prison are also deprived of drinking water. Emergency water was also cut off on Friday, and prison officials locked the doors of the ward’s halls to prevent the prisoners from protesting. Hot water has been cut off in some prison wards for more than two weeks.”
The health minister Saeed Namaki announced that if doctors decide an individual must be tested for coronavirus, they will be tested for free. But if a person decides he or she should be tested they will have to pay for it.
Disagreements between provincial officials, members of parliament and the government in Tehran have been frequent throughout Iran’s coronavirus crisis. Hossein Ali Shahriari, a representative from Sistan and Baluchistan and the chairman of the parliament’s health committee, accused the government of not fully cooperating with the health ministry and claimed the president was playing the role of a health expert in decision-making. He acknowledged that many health protocols were in need of revision, he warned that if the situation continued, many more Iranians would perish from coronavirus, not only in his home province but across the country. He asked the government to provide people with cheap or free masks, especially to ease the financial burden on large families.
Coronavirus epidemic has reached a peak in seven provinces and it is expected that two other provinces will follow, said government spokesman Ali Rabiei.
The situation in Bushehr province no longer poses a cause to be alert, it has has turned into a crisis, announced Saeed Kashmiri, the president of Bushehr University of medical Sciences. He said that at the end of May, the transmission of the virus followed a clustered pattern, but now the pattern has changed and transmission is occurring across the population and the imposition of certain restrictions were inevitable.
Coronavirus cases are not under control in Asaluyeh and Kangan in Bushehr province. The two cities are located at the center of the Pars Special Energy and Economic Zone, a large development project for heavy industry and refineries, and the many people employed to work on the project can easily transmit the virus to their families when on leave. In addition to this, project managers are ignoring health protocols and distribution of sanitary packs among the workers has been stopped.
Musa Ahmadi, a member of the parliament from Kangan, announced that the situation in the two cities is beyond red alert and people are dying every day. Nonessential projects must be shut down, he said, because everyone working in the zone is in danger.
The rate of infections in Fars province has been record-breaking, social restrictions must be enforced and people must wear masks in public spaces and in public transportation, said Mehrzad Lotfi, president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences.
The number of coronavirus patients in Golestan province and especially in its eastern regions has increased, announced Abdolreza Fazel, president of Golestan University of Medical Sciences. He predicted that this trend will continue for another 10 days in cities that are on red alert.
According to a decision by the Coronavirus Taskforce and an order by the Ministry of Health, indoor pools can reopen in areas in yellow alert provided only 50 percent of their capacity is used and five square meters is allocated to each swimmer, announced Reza Gol-Mohammadi, director general of Tehran Sports Bureau.
Health Official Calls for Masks to be Mandatory
Iran’s COVID-19 death toll has risen to nearly 9,996, with 133 new fatalities in the 24-hour period covering June 23 and June 24 according to the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari. This, Sadat Lari said, represented a reversal of the steady fall in daily numbers as the country relaxed its lockdown. She said the total of confirmed coronavirus cases had reached 212,501, with 2,531 new cases being reported in one day.
The health ministry agreed to requests that restrictions be reimposed in the 15 provinces that were on high or “red” alert, and where the number of infections and hospitalizations continue to increase. She reported that the epidemic is in its first peak in the provinces of Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and West Azerbaijan, that Fars and Kerman are in a dangerous situation and that infections and hospitalizations are on the rise in Lorestan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Razavi Khorasan, Golestan, East Azerbaijan, Hamedan and Zanjan.
For the first time in two months, the daily death toll regularly topped 100, mirroring a sharp rise in new cases since restrictions on movement began to be lifted in mid-April.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) announced that Tehran’s main Friday Prayers would not resume in Tehran, despite a previous announcement that they would.
Deputy Minister of Health Alireza Raeesi announced that in some provinces, including Qom and Gilan, "about 40 percent" of people had contracted coronavirus, with Tehran reporting that nearly "15 percent" of its residents were infected. If this is true, and if 15 percent of people in Tehran have coronavirus, that alone would mean that Iran has more than a million cases. Health ministry officials did not explain the inconsistencies between the official numbers and their warnings regarding high percentage rates.
Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raeesi called for the wearing of masks to become mandatory in gatherings, indoor public places and on public transport.
“Iran is the only country that has to deal with both sanctions and financial troubles” during the pandemic, said the health minister Saeed Namaki. While the US has spent $111 billion and the UK £22 billion on healthcare and on fighting coronavirus, he said, Iran had allocated around one billion euros “with the approval of the Supreme Leader.” However, he also added that three and a half months on from this allocation, the government has spent less than 30 percent of this amount; it was not clear whether this comparison was presented to show Iran’s strength or its weakness.
Reuters reported that pro-regime Iranian hackers had been behind attempts to break into the personal email accounts of staff at the World Health Organization in early spring. Speaking to technology experts who monitor criminal cyber activity, the report said it was not clear if any accounts had been compromised, but that it was obvious that WHO and other organizations providing information and guidance about the pandemic had been under regular online attacks.
One source with close links to US intelligence said he was aware of the Iranian campaign, and that such attacks were expected during times of international crisis. He said hackers would be looking to uncover various countries’ coronavirus response plans or treatment plans so that intelligence agencies of Iran or other countries could benefit from this information. Data from WHO or other organizations would also be valuable to these hackers, the source told Reuters.
“Health and livelihood are the main concerns of the Iranian people today,” President Rouhani announced around the same time, adding: “the pandemic has affected politics, economy and even the lifestyle of the people all over the world.” He reiterated that Iran’s response to the crisis was key, and that he aimed to tackle unemployment and work toward restoring the economy once the crisis was over.
While President Rouhani and his administration continued to insist on the need for businesses to reopen, the health minister stated that the efforts of “some officials,” alongside the public’s carelessness, were leading to a rise in coronavirus cases in several provinces. He stopped short of naming anyone in particular. “What you see in some provinces today is not the second coronavirus peak but the first peak moving into various provinces,” Namaki said.
Pointing out that coronavirus infections in Tehran might increase, Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, said that about 40 percent of beds, or close to 4,000, at convalescence centers in Tehran are still available, and that the number of beds could be quickly increased.
The number of coronavirus infections in Kermanshah province has been picking up speed, said Mehdi Mohammadi, a member of the coronavirus taskforce at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. According to him, when the coronavirus epidemic started in Iran in February, the daily average of infections in the province was only four, but then it increased to 22 and then 76. By the end of June, the figure had rose to 226 per day. Consequently, the number of coronavirus fatalities had increased as well.
Medical personnel in hospitals in Bushehr province contracted the virus in late June, with Saeed Kashmiri, the president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences reporting that 412 had been infected. He added that the number of patients in intensive care units had increased and predicted that Bushehr would see more fatalities in the coming weeks.
Mehdi Shafiei, the president of Kerman University of Medical Sciences, warned that the situation in Kerman province was very dangerous but it could get even worse and witness a second wave of the pandemic.
Unlike Tehran, which was reported to have enough beds for incoming patients, almost all hospital beds in the southern part of Kerman province were taken and fatalities were on the rise, according to Asghar Makarem, president of Jiroft University of Medical Sciences. He warned that if the infections increase rapidly, hospitals would be unable to cope.
According to Mehrzad Lotfi, the president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, in the 24-hour period covering June 23 and June 24, Fars province experienced record-breaking coronavirus fatalities. He urged the governor of the province to impose restrictions before a second wave of the epidemic hits Fars.
Coronavirus is surging rapidly in Khuzestan province, said Reza Nejati, a member of the Khuzestan Coronavirus Taskforce. He added that as the government acknowledged that the situation was critical in the province, it should also provide Khuzestan with proportionate help and facilities.
With the jump in infections and hospitalizations, Fereydoon Rahmani, the vice president of the Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari University of Medical Sciences, said 80 percent of coronavirus wards in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province were full and if the number of patients accelerated in the coming days, it would put the province in a crisis situation. He reported that in the third week in June, the number of coronavirus infections had gone up from 12 percent to 27 percent.
At the same time, Fatemeh Zarin-Amizi, spokeswoman for the National Testing Organization, said nationwide university entrance exams will be held on schedule, declaring that there was no need to change the dates even in cities on high alert. She said entrance exams would be carried out following the appropriate sanitary protocols and maintaining social distancing.
Official Death Toll From coronavirus in Iran Passes 10,000
The death toll from Iran’s coronavirus outbreak reached 10,130, according to the health ministry, as infections and fatalities continued to rise following the relaxation of many of the country’s restrictions. In the 24 hours between June 24 and June 25, 134 people died, while the total number of cases rose to 215,096 on June 24, the ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on state TV.
Emphasizing the necessity of wearing masks, especially in crowded areas, Lari said that the provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Kermanshah have had the highest number of hospitalizations.
A “new phase” of combating coronavirus has made wearing masks “inevitable,” said President Rouhani. A list of places and regions where wearing masks was now mandatory was being prepared and it would be announced after approval from the National Coronavirus Taskforce. “We hope, as before, people will cooperate and we will have no need for fines or for using force,” he said.
At the same time that the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations suddenly and significantly increased in Bushehr province, critical cases in intensive care units have increased as well. “We must expect more fatalities in the coming weeks,” said Saeed Kashmiri, president of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences. Reporting that a seven-year-old girl had just died from coronavirus, he blamed the family for not taking the virus seriously.
Razavi Khorasan was clearly in danger of a massive surge of cases, but, unfortunately, people are not listening, announced Mehdi Gholian, the vice president of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. He warned that if the number of coronavirus infections rose rapidly, the health system will be overwhelmed and will not be able to cope. He reported that as of June 25, out of 500 tests per day, an average of 200 were positive.
Close to 100 children in Khuzestan province have been infected with coronavirus but, fortunately, only two or three of them have died, reported Farhad Abolnejadian, the president of Ahvaz Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences. So far, he said, there has been no report of a child dying without an underlying disease.
On June 21, friends of a coronavirus patient who had died in a hospital in Piranshahr in West Azerbaijan attacked the anesthesiologist at the hospital, injuring him badly. On June 25, Javad Aghazadeh, the president of West Azerbaijan University of Medical Sciences, reported that the assailants had been arrested. The anesthesiologist, he said, was in a satisfactory condition.
Hospitals dedicated to treating coronavirus patients in Isfahan province are full and more specialized hospital beds are badly needed, said Arash Najimi, spokesman for Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.
Explaining the plan to divide school days so that one half of the students attend “odd” days and the other half “even” days, education minister Mohsen Haji Mirzaei said that schools would be active for six days per week instead of five and students would be taught remotely for three days. He said that 40 percent of schools are located in areas with low populations and they can reopen as usual by following health protocols, adding: “We had to change the program in areas with a high number of students.”
Conceding that Khuzestan province was experiencing a serious wave of coronavirus, health minister Saeed Namaki said that he believed the rate of infections in the province would fall in a few days. He did not provide any evidence for his claim.
New restrictions were imposed for two weeks in West Azerbaijan province, said Mohammad Mehdi Shahriari, the governor of West Azerbaijan. Starting from June 25, universities and colleges, seminaries, libraries, childcare centers, indoor pools, coffee shops, entertainment centers and zoos will be closed for 14 days.
Those who do not wear masks in public spaces and do not observe social distancing will be given one warning but will face legal action after that, reported Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce.
Ayatollah Khamenei Admonishes Officials Who Don’t Wear Masks in Crowds
Six provinces in Iran remain in a “red” state of alert and eight provinces are on a moderate alert level, and the official figure for coronavirus infections reached 220,180 and the death toll increased to 10,364. The governors of three provinces urged higher officials for a return to lockdown, while the governor of Tehran province said that re-imposing restrictions was not possible and that it was necessary to put new measures in place.
In the 24-hour period between June 26 and June 27, 2,456 new coronavirus cases were identified, 1,139 people have been hospitalized with Covid-19 and 125 people have died, the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said. On June 27, the official total of coronavirus cases in Iran was 220,180 and the death toll was 10,364.
According to the spokeswoman, the provinces of Khuzestan, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Hormozgan, West Azerbaijan and Razavi Khorasan had the highest number of infections and were in a “red” state, or a state of emergency. They were followed by the provinces of West Azerbaijan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Bushehr, Qazvin, Kerman, Lorestan and Golestan, which were in a state of alert.
Ayatollah Khamenei warned that Iran’s economic problems could worsen if the coronavirus was to spread unchecked. "It is correct to say that something must be done to prevent economic problems caused by the coronavirus," he said in a speech to judiciary officials delivered via videoconferencing. "But if we are negligent and there is significant spread of the disease, economic problems will increase, too.”
“I see that certain honorable officials are on television surrounded by other people, but they do not wear a mask!” Khamenei said. “Well, I am not wearing a mask either, but there are no people around me. If two, three people come to me, I will certainly wear a mask. When you are a government official and do not wear a mask, you might encourage the youth walking on the street not to do it either.”
Senior Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi announced that every 13 minutes a coronavirus patient dies in Iran, and every 33 seconds an Iranian becomes infected with coronavirus. He warned that, by ignoring social distancing protocols, one infected person could infect 406 others.
Harirchi claimed that in terms of the net number of coronavirus infections and fatalities in the world, Iran ranks, respectively, 10 and 9. However, he said, taking the population into account, Iran, with 2,561 infections and 121 deaths per one million people, ranks 47 and 30.
According to Saeed Kashmiri, the secretary of Bushehr Coronavirus Taskforce, hospitalizations in Bushehr province kept rising in late June, as did deaths from coronavirus.
In Kerman province, Ali Asghar Kheirkhah, the vice president of Jiroft University of Medical Sciences, warned that coronavirus fatalities had increased and an “explosion” of infections was looming. He said ignoring social distancing would lead to a more disastrous situation in south Kerman because Covid-19 wards in the hospitals in the cities of Jiroft and Kahnooj were almost full.
Hormozgan province continues to be in a “red” state of alert, according Ahmad Moradi, a member of the parliament from Bandar Abbas. Wearing masks in the province is now mandatory, he said, and reported that the governor of Bushehr had joined a National Coronavirus Taskforce meeting online and asked that offices in the province be shut down for two weeks and that traffic and travel restrictions be imposed.
Pointing out that West Azerbaijan is now on “red” alert, Javad Aghazadeh, the president of West Azerbaijan University of Medical Sciences, reported that reception halls in the province had been shut down and all wedding and mourning ceremonies banned. The province’s Coronavirus Taskforce, he said, had closed all parks in the provincial capital of Urmia, banned all gatherings and made the wearing of masks in public places mandatory. Government offices were ordered not to provide services to anybody who was not wearing a mask.
There was a spike in coronavirus cases in Zanjan province and the number of infections grew considerably, according to Parviz Ghezelbash, the president of Zanjan University. In the last 10 days, he said, the number of people who tested positive for coronavirus had grown from 400 to more than 1,000. For instance, out of the 819 tests conducted on June 24, 343 were positive. More importantly, the rate of positive tests grew from 20 percent to 40 percent. If the trend continued, Ghezelbash warned, hospitals will not be able to cope.
Fathollah Haghighi, the governor of Zanjan, reported that the number of coronavirus hospitalizations had grown five-fold and said that he had the authority to re-impose lockdowns and restrictions in cities that were in a state of emergency.
The expenses of treating anybody who had been infected during a wedding or morning ceremony must be paid by the organizer of the ceremony even if the ceremony is held inside a private home, said Jalal Karimi, vice president of Fasa University of Medical Sciences in Fars province. And if the infected person dies, he added, the organizer must pay his or her “blood money.”
Every day, around 400 coronavirus patients are brought to the emergency rooms of hospitals in Mashhad, reported Hamid Reza Rahimi, the spokesman for Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. Approximately 500 people suspected of having coronavirus visit coronavirus test labs in the city every day, he said. Anooshirvan Mohseni Bandpey, the governor of Tehran province, warned that the number of coronavirus patients in the Iranian capital were on the rise and, if this continued, new measures must be taken. He said that since lockdowns cannot be re-imposed, the wearing of masks must be promoted.
President Rouhani Abandons his Claim of “Success” Against Coronavirus
The number of coronavirus cases continued to rise rapidly. For instance, in the province of West Azerbaijan alone, a daily average of 800 cases of “acute respiratory syndrome” — a synonym for coronavirus the government used to keep the official figures for Covid-19 down — were recorded at the end of June.
The situation was deteriorating so quickly that on June 28, President Rouhani withdrew his initial claim of success against the virus. He announced that wearing masks will be mandatory from July 5 for two weeks in “gathering places,” indoor spaces and cities on “red” alert. If necessary, he said, this would be extended beyond the two-week period. Rouhani also said that further measures could be re-imposed in “red” zones, a designation now covering 10 of Iran’s 31 provinces.
In a televised speech on June 28 addressing the National Coronavirus Taskforce, Rouhani said “it has been the most difficult year due to the enemy’s economic pressure and the pandemic.”
The number of people tested positive for the coronavirus in Iran rose to 222,669 following the detection of 2,489 new cases since June 27, reported Sima Sadat Lari, the health ministry’s spokeswoman. She put the number of coronavirus patients who died over the last 24-hour period between June 27 and June 28 at 144, bringing the total death toll for the country to 10,508. On a relatively happier note, she said that at least 183,310 people who had confirmed cases had recovered from COVID-19 across Iran.
Following on from the president’s announcement, Senior Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said that wearing masks will become mandatory in public spaces in the coming week and those not wearing masks would be denied public services.
Since the start of the coronavirus more than 5,000 people have lost their lives to this virus in Tehran, said Dr. Nahid Khoda Karami, the chairwoman of Tehran City Council’s Health Committee and a member of Iran’s Medical Council.
The change in the number of coronavirus patients in Tehran is a cause for worry, said Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. In the 24-hour period between June 27 and June 28, he said, 399 Covid-19 patients had been put in ordinary wards in the capital’s hospitals.
In the province of West Azerbaijan a daily average of 800 cases of “acute respiratory syndrome” were registered and the province was by this point in a higher state of emergency than other provinces, reported West Azerbaijan Health officials.
Pointing out that nine cities in Khuzestan are still in a “red” state of alert, Farhad Abolnejadian, the president of Ahvaz University of Medical Sciences, said that the university had asked the National Coronavirus Taskforce to impose restrictions in the province. He warned that beds in intensive care units across Khuzestan were filled to capacity. All in all, he said, 80 percent of hospital beds in the province were occupied.
Hospitals in the Khuzestan city of Dezful were 85 percent full, and the city had been in a critical condition for the last two months and now faces a severe shortage of manpower to take care of coronavirus patients, said Dr. Yousef Paridar, the president of Dezful University of Medical Sciences. According to him, as of June 28, only five volunteers had joined the medical staff and the shortage of expert manpower was directly affecting the number of fatalities.
Hospitals in the province of Hormozgan were also facing a shortage of manpower, according to Dr. Hossein Farshidi, the president of Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. He called on the people of Hormozgan to go to hospitals and help if they had any experience working in the healthcare or medical fields.
Hormozgan is in a critical situation, treatment facilities and capabilities are inadequate, said Majid Askarizadeh, a member of Bandar Abbas City Council. He added that there was no one in Bandar Abbas who did not have a relative infected with coronavirus and said the cluelessness of the officials were to blame for the situation, he said.
From June 29, in Kerman province, wearing masks will be mandatory in in public places, banks, offices and businesses that have a high number of clients. But Mostafa Ayatollahi Mousavi, the deputy governor of Kerman, said mask prices had gone up more than seven-fold and this would be a problem for the province.
Coronavirus cases in Zanjan province increased three-fold in the last 10 days, according to Mohammad Reza Saeeni, vice president of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences. He said people would have to change their lifestyles and not attend wedding and mourning ceremonies or family gatherings.
Just two weeks after the start of summer vacation, the number of coronavirus in Gilan province increased almost two-fold. Abtin Heydarzadeh, vice president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences, said people should expect the epidemic to get worse in the fall with the start of the new school year and the fact that people would be in more closed spaces due to the cooler weather.
Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, the head of the health ministry’s Center for Contagious Diseases, agreed that the situation was likely to get worse when the weather grew cooler, the coronavirus epidemic continued and cases of influenza began to mount. He warned that the virulence and contagiousness of coronavirus was obvious and added that there were 10 times more coronavirus cases outside hospitals than there are inside them.
Health Ministry Denies Defends Decision not to Report Coronavirus Figures by Province
The coronavirus epidemic continued in an upward trend in 17 Iranian provinces, and the official death toll from Covid-19 rose, breaking records in a number of cities and provinces. The health ministry claimed it was not announcing Covid-19 figures by province on the order of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. At the same time, the ministry announced that from June 29 on it would only conduct coronavirus tests on vulnerable people over 60.
The total number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 225,205, said the health ministry’s spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari. “With 162 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 10,670,” she said. “Unfortunately, we have had 2,536 new cases since yesterday.” She put the number of those who have so far recovered from the viral infection at 186,180.
The provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Razavi Khorasan and Kermanshah are in a “red” or emergency state of alert. The provinces of Ilam, Lorestan and Golestan are on high alert, reported Sadat Lari. The epidemic was also spreading in Sistan and Baluchistan, Zanjan, Fars, Alborz, South Khorasan, Hamedan and Semnan.
In a videoconference with Deputy Prime Minister and Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on June 29, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced Iran’s readiness to share its experiences and capabilities in the fight against coronavirus. But some suggested that Iran might be better off if Iran first learned from the experiences of other countries that have been more honest about the pandemic and about the number of victims in those countries.
As of June 29 state hospitals reported that 15,084 members of medical staff were showing symptoms of coronavirus, reported Senior Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi. He said that 9,984 of them had tested positive for the virus. The decision not to report coronavirus statistics by province was made by the National Coronavirus Taskforce and not by the health ministry, claimed Deputy Health Minister Ghasem Jan-Babaei.
Jan-Babaei told a meeting of the Khuzestan Coronavirus Taskforce that the province was still at the peak of its coronavirus epidemic and that the most urgent goal was to reduce fatalities using every tool and facility at their disposal.
Pointing out that the number of new hospitalizations in special wards had been exceptionally high in the Iranian capital over the last three weeks, Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, reported that for the first time, the number of incoming patients has outpaced the number of patients being released from hospitals. He said that 8.6 percent of patients arriving in the hospital needed to be admitted.
According to the most recent report by the health ministry’s Epidemiology Committee, the coronavirus epidemic in Iran was on an ascending curve in the week ending June 26. The ascending curve or the start of a peak was seen in the 11 provinces of Zanjan, West Azerbaijan, Ilam, Isfahan, Qazvin, Fars, Razavi Khorasan, Qom, Golestan, Gilan and Mazandaran; the five provinces of Kermanshah, Bushehr, East Azerbaijan, Semnan and Markazi had recently experienced their peaks. However, the inconsistency in data about the five provinces of Ardebil, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, North Khorasan, Sistan and Baluchistan and Hamedan did not allow for a correct analysis of the epidemic there.
The number of hospitalizations for acute respiratory infections had exceeded 600 in Mashhad state hospital, the highest number since the epidemic started, reported Ali Asghar Anjidani, the secretary of the Coronavirus Workgroup at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. He warned that the situation of the epidemic in Mashhad metropolitan area “has gone even beyond red.”
If coronavirus infections continue to spread as they are currently doing, all hospitals run by Zahedan University of Medical Sciences will soon run out of capacity, warned Ghasem Miri, the university’s vice president. In that case, he said, the hospital would have to empty out other wards to make room for coronavirus patients.
The number of women infected with coronavirus is getting close to the number of men with the virus in Fars province, reported Abdolrasoul Hemmati, vice president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, adding that the number of infections in the province is very high and getting higher.
The situation in Khuzestan province has stayed “red” for more than six weeks, said Mohammad Alavi, vice president of Ahvaz University of Medical Sciences. He warned that serious measures must be taken to change the situation, including limiting traffic in certain areas, especially in the margins of the cities, remote work for 50 percent of office employees, lockdown of covered bazaars, child daycare centers, marriage registration offices and certain educational centers, and a ban on wedding and mourning ceremonies.
More than 33 percent of people who have gone to test centers in Hamedan province have tested positive, said Rashid Heydari Moghadam, president of Hamedan University of Medical Sciences. He said one of the biggest worries the university had is whether or not it can provide coronavirus patients with oxygen because its existing machine does not produce enough oxygen for hospitalized patients and the price of the machine has increased from 110 million tomans ($7,400) to 1.3 billion tomans ($87,000).
Hospitals Across Iran Running Out of Beds and Homegrown Covid-19 Vaccine
Eight provinces are in a “red” or high state of alert and four more on a lower alert level. Hospitals in several provinces have reported that their intensive care unit beds are full and there is a danger that patients in critical conditions might not be able to be hospitalized. The health ministry warned that hospitals have not had the chance to discharge existing patients so they are in a position to admit new ones.
Iran’s health ministry reported 2,457 new confirmed coronavirus cases on June 30, bringing the number of cases to more than 227,000.
The number of people tested positive for Covid-19 across the country rose to 227,662 following the detection of 2,457 new cases since noon on Monday, June 29, reported the health ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari. She added that 147 coronavirus patients had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll in Iran to 10,817. According to Sadat Lari, 188,758 patients have recovered from coronavirus infection and have been discharged from hospitals.
She reported that the provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Hormozgan, Bushehr, Razavi Khorasan and Kermanshah are in a “red” or emergency state of alert and have the highest number of infections, hospitalizations and fatalities. The provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Ilam, Lorestan and Golestan are on a less critical but still serious alert, she said.
The health ministry’s spokeswoman also claimed that more than 1,666,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests have been carried out in Iran so far. Considering that the coronavirus outbreak was officially announced 164 days previously and the first coronavirus test was conducted a day earlier, then — if her claim is true —Iran has been conducting 10,100 tests a day.
However, according to Hamid Reza Tayebi, head of the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research, Iran has the capacity to make 250,000 test kits and, since each kit can be used to conduct multiple tests, Iran should be in a position to carry out one million tests per month. But, for reasons that he could not determine, Iranian officials do conduct this number of tests.
Iran is preparing to test a home-grown Covid-19 vaccine on people, health minister Saeed Namaki said on June 30, after a surge in post-lockdown cases of the virus sent fatalities to a record high. “Most of the tests on animals have been successfully completed and we will work on clinical trials of the vaccine in humans in the very near future,” Saeed Namaki announced at a pharmaceutical exhibition, according to a statement on the ministry of health’s website. Iranian scientists have been developing the vaccine for four months, he added.
The number of Covid-19 patients in critical condition, including young people, increased and Senior Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi confirmed that the hospitals had not had the opportunity to discharge existing patients so that they can admit new ones. He also reported that 15,084 medical staff in state hospitals alone are showing coronavirus symptoms.
Sixty percent of people who have returned to Tehran in the last month have coronavirus, said Masoud Mardani, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. He said that the government would do well to revise its decisions on reopenings. “For instance, what is the necessity of reopening language and piano classes?” he asked. “Why must childcare centers be reopened? Some of the reopenings have been very ill-conceived and must be restricted.”
“I am afraid that people’s safety is being sacrificed for the sake of the economy, and the president is still making suggestions that lead people to think that everything is back to normal,” warned Hossein Ali Shahriari, chairman of the parliament’s Committee on Health, adding that hospitals beds were continuing to fill up.
On the same day, President Rouhani urged the country to use the situation produced by coronavirus to develop an “e-government” and stressed the need to plan and prepare for the communications and information technology sector to hold the new academic year on the National Information Network.
All beds designated for coronavirus patients in hospitals run by Tehran University of Medical Sciences were full, reported Farshad Allameh, the university’s vice president.
Khosrow Sadeghniat, the president of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, reported that the number of incoming patients and hospitalizations for coronavirus at the hospital had increased three-fold between June 20 and June 30 and warned that the number of patients in a critical condition in intensive care units, including a considerable number of young people, was more than 40 percent of all patients in the hospital.
Saeed Reza Mehrpour, president of Tehran’s Shariati Hospital, also warned that if the situation continued, all hospitals would only be treating coronavirus patients.
Zanjan province was in a critical situation, according to Parviz Ghezelbash, the president of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences. On June 29 and June 30, more than 500 coronavirus patients had been hospitalized in the province and all hospital beds in Zanjan were full, half of them with Covid-19 patients, he said. He reported that 50 of those patients with coronavirus had taken part in a public ceremony prior to being hospitalized.
More than 400 medical personnel in Fars province have been infected with coronavirus, reported Mehrzad Lotfi, president of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. In the last few weeks, with the spread of the first wave of the pandemic in Fars, the number of hospitalizations in the province and in Shiraz had increased so much that the hospitals were forced to use capacity that had been set aside for a second wave of the virus.
Symptoms including diarrhea, stomachache, vomiting, skin rash, severe heart pain and stroke are now associated with coronavirus infection, reported Dr. Payam Tabarsi, head of the Center for Epidemiological Studies at Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital.
With the introduction of new restrictions, free coronavirus tests in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan were due to be conducted in special cases only. Everyone else must pay to be tested, said Ghasem Miri Aliabadi, vice president of Zahedan University of Medical Science. The province has the highest level of poverty in Iran and large numbers of its people would not be able to afford to pay for the test, meaning that many of them will have to die in silence.