With the coronavirus crisis rapidly worsening in Iranian provinces and cities, terms such as “red alert,” “black,” “explosive,” “critical,” “beyond critical” and “coronavirus tsunami” are no longer sufficient to describe the situation.
On November 2, Dr. Minoo Moharez from the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Scientific Committee used the word “fiasco” to describe the situation in Tehran. She said the nation’s capital must be locked down as soon as possible. Otherwise, she said, “we will have a catastrophe. May God have mercy on us. We have so many coronavirus patients, so many cases, so many patients in a critical condition, and so many problems. Now imagine we add traveling and public gatherings to all this. We must close down Tehran as fast as we can. On weekends and holidays we must close the roads to prevent people from traveling.”
Dr. Moharez pointed out that lockdowns had been announced on Monday of the previous week but, in reality, everything remained open.
Some officials have suggested that martial law or something similar should be declared in Iran. When asked about this suggestion, Dr. Minoo Moharez said: “there is no way that martial law would work for this situation. How would martial law work? People must stay home at night? What about during the day?”
Moharez stated again that traffic must be reduced, and that offices, schools, universities and sports clubs must close, as should restaurants, which she described as being “among the most dangerous places in terms of transmitting the virus.” She added: “The only places that should remain open are those that provide the people with basic necessities, like supermarkets.”
Traffic restrictions in 25 cities started midday on Monday, November 2. However, considering authorities’ failure to enforce previous measures approved by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, it remains to be seen whether the new restrictions can be enforced effectively. A fine of 500,000 tomans ($120) has been set for people who violate these traffic restrictions, though it is not clear whether people will actually be forced to pay fines or, as has happened in the past, authorities will continue to issue empty threats.
Many experts say that what Iran needs to stop the spread of coronavirus is a total quarantine, but proposals for a two-week lockdown of some cities continue to gather dust on the desks of the Coronavirus National Taskforce. Iranian government officials are not yet ready to put public health before the economy.
Tehran City Council has proposed a two-week lockdown several times but, in the past eight months, the taskforce has not agreed with any proposal to quarantine or lockdown any city or province.
In recent days, following the judiciary announcement that it would step in to enforce coronavirus restrictions, many businesses and employees have been summoned to courts for violating health protocols set out by the National Coronavirus Taskforce. At the same time, efforts to prevent wedding and mourning ceremonies continue across Iran and there have been reports that several grooms and organizers of these ceremonies have been arrested.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki claimed, once again, that Iran is making progress in its development of a coronavirus vaccine. “Out of 12 groups in Iran that have been working to develop a coronavirus vaccine three have had some success and at least two have concluded animal testing and will start testing on humans in the coming weeks,” he said, and reported that “a national coronavirus vaccine committee has been formed and we will inform the public of research results.”
It is not only Tehran that needs a total lockdown. In a letter to Anayatollah Rahimi, governor of Fars province, 200 members of the faculty of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences called for “an immediate quarantine for at least two weeks and a total ban on traveling” in the province.
They also reported that all hospitals in Fars have been filled to capacity, while the number of cases and fatalities continue to rise and the hospitals have been forced to delay the admission of new coronavirus patients because there are no beds left.
According to the latest reports, in the 24-hour period spanning November 1 and November 2, 34 coronavirus patients died in Fars. As of November 2, 1,470 Covid-19 patients had died in the province and, in the last 24 hours alone, 2,100 new patients have tested positive. This number is noteworthy because the health ministry claims that in the last 24 hours less than 8,300 new cases have been identified across the whole country.
On the morning of November 3, Mehdi Sa’adati, chairman of the caucus of representatives from Mazandaran province, reported that the National Coronavirus Taskforce and the Ministry of Interior had agreed to ban travel to the province. Just before the ban took effect, however, many people had begun their journeys to Mazandaran and, as a result, chaos ensued on the roads leading to the province.
Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences, said the last 24 hours was the worst day for Alborz province since the coronavirus outbreak. During this period, 32 Covid-19 patients died, raising the total death toll in the province to 1,748. According to Dr. Fathi, 162 new patients with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized, bringing the total number of current hospitalizations to 905.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for November 2, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
Dr. Lari also reported that all 31 Iranian provinces are in red, orange or yellow states of alert.
This is part of IranWire's coronavirus chronology. Read the full chronology