This year’s Arba’een, the Shia religious holiday marking the 40th day of Imam Hossein’s martyrdom, was one the quietest in living memory. Traditional mourning processions were banned by the government to prevent the further spread of coronavirus – although of course in some areas, including Mashhad, home to the holy Imam Reza Shrine, a few ignored the ban. Iranian media reported that from the early hours of October 8 onwards, not only groups of families but organized processions were seen marching towards the shrine.
Just a day earlier, on October 7, the official number of daily coronavirus fatalities in Iran had hit a record high at 239. Once again, it must be reiterated that the Ministry of Health only records and reports the deaths of people who had tested positive for coronavirus; health experts agree the real number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities in Iran will be much higher.
On October 8, some 230 more deaths were recorded. Widespread reports surfaced of patients lining up outside the hospitals and even queueing in the corridors of emergency wards, waiting for beds to become available.
“We have a congestion of patients in the hospitals,” said Iran’s first deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi. “Every day there are a number of Covid-19 patients in emergency wards waiting for beds to become available. But even as they are admitted, new patients are arriving.”
Overflowing hospitals are also now facing yet another crisis: the breakdown of equipment as a result of recent, extensive use. “Equipment for treating Covid-19 patients, like CT scan devices, oxygen generators and ventilators, have been used beyond their capacity,” reported Iraj Harirchi on October 6. “Some of this apparatus, because of its age, has stopped working or needs repairs. This is a very serious challenge.”
In a letter to Health Minister Saeed Namaki, Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of Tehran’s Coronavirus Taskforce, asked for lockdown in the capital to be extended for at least another week, until October 16. He also reported that the number of outpatients, hospitalizations, patients in critical condition in ICUs and Covid-19 fatalities in the city was still rising. Last week, Tehran’s provincial government shut down schools, universities, mosques, cafés, restaurants, sports centers and a number of other commercial premises from October 3 to 9 in a bid to stop the surge.
It’s not just hospitals in the capital that are buckling under the pressure of Covid-19. On October 8, medical staff at Babol’s Rouhani Hospital in Mazandaran province gathered in front of the building to protest unpaid wages and overtime. In response to their complaints, deputy speaker of parliament Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi said: “We understand the nurses’ concerns, but it must not lead to public protests. Under these conditions we all must exercise self-control because making the crisis worse will harm people more, and it can be exploited by unscrupulous people.”
In the past 24, two more Covid-19 patients have died in the province of Hormozgan, bringing the total of confirmed coronavirus fatalities in the province to 790, reported Dr. Fatemeh Noroozian, spokeswoman for Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences. “Currently 192 confirmed Covid-19 patients are hospitalized across the province,” she said. “Of these, 46 are in ICU wards and 17 are in a critical condition.”
In Hamedan province, the official coronavirus death toll has reached 645. In past 24 hours alone, 52 new cases have been confirmed, reported Mohammad Taheri, Hamedan University of Medical Science’s director of public relations.
According to Dr. Farshid Abedi, a contagious diseases specialist in Birjand, the capital of South Khorasan, whole families at a time have been admitted to hospital in the past 10 days. “Family-wide infections in South Khorasan have increased since the third wave started,” he said, “and they account for the highest number of infections. This has led to overcrowding at Valiasr Hospital in Birjand.”
In Khuzestan province there has been a considerable increase in the number of coronavirus cases among those aged between 6 and 17, reported Dr. Ghodratollah Shakeri-Nejad, president of Behbahan University of Medical Sciences. “Forty-six common beds and 14 ICU beds have been allocated to coronavirus patients at Behbahan’s Shahid Zadeh Hospital,” he said, “and currently 40 common beds and nine ICU beds are occupied. Every day around 30 patients with suspected Covid-19 come to Shahid Zadeh Hospital and usually, around 30 percent of them are admitted.” Restaurants in Behbahan are now only offering a take-out service, while parks and recreation centers have been closed.
In her daily briefing for October 8, health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the past 24 hours:
Dr. Lari also reported that of the 31 Iranian provinces currently 30 provinces are in a high state of alert:
This article is part of IranWire's coronavirus chronology. Read the full chronology