On Wednesday, October 28 the death toll from Covid-19 in Iran rose to 415 in 24 hours, once again breaking the daily record. This means that since Tuesday, one Iranian has died from Covid-19 every four minutes.
Tehran has borne the worst of these fatalities, with more than half of the most recent deaths recorded in the capital. According to Dr. Alireza Zali, director of Tehran’s Coronavirus Taskforce, the number of both inpatient and outpatient cases of Covid-19 in Tehran is rising like a tidal wave. On the assumption – as health officials have suggested – that the true death toll is likely to be two and a half times higher than the official figure, Dr. Zali said Tehran is facing a “disaster”.
Despite this, Tehran is exempt from the list of 43 Iranian cities on a near-total lockdown. “Because of the complexity of the situation in Tehran,” Dr. Zali said, “the indicators that must be used to declare the city in crisis are different from those that apply to the provinces. The reasoning was that… infection rates must get higher in Tehran [before the same restrictions can be imposed].”
The reason for the absence of a lockdown in Tehran, according to Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the president of Tehran City Council, is the economy and not health considerations. “The government has given the difficult economic situation priority over people’s health,” he said. “If the economic conditions were better the government would have taken better care of people.”
Even Health Minister Saeed Namaki hinted at something similar. “Everywhere in the world,” he said, “it’s the economy that supports the health sector during an epidemic. But in Iran we are supporting the economy during sanctions. The livelihood of a kiosk owner comes entirely from his kiosk and we cannot keep it closed eternity. We have written protocols for all businesses, and we have paid the price as well.”
Reshuffle at Coronavirus Taskforce
In a probably attempt to mitigate the damage done by health officials’ contradictory statements and statistics about coronavirus in Iran to date, President Rouhani has appointed Alireza Raeesi as the new spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce. “From this date on,” he said, “the only reliable and authoritative source for plans and decisions by the taskforce shall be the spokesman.”
By order of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a “base of operations” for the National Coronavirus Taskforce has also been created and interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Yazdi has been appointed as its first commander. The use of the term “base” has led many to believe the epidemic is now being considered a security issue first, not a matter of public health.
The Waiting Game for a Vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine developed in Iran will be available in early spring, Saeed Namaki has promised. The health minister made the claim despite the fact that all previously-announced “Iranian-made vaccines” have been postponed time and again. Currently, it is not even clear when the regular flu vaccine imports Iran promised in the summer will begin to materialize. Nevertheless, Namaki insisted that a home-grown coronavirus vaccine would enter the human testing phase in the next week.
Namaki also announced that as of now, the health ministry has received around half of a billion-euro subsidy from the National Development Fund, allocated to help the country fight against coronavirus. Previously the Central Bank of Iran had refused to release most of this money to the health ministry, citing concerns around inflation. Some 500 million euros of the crisis funding remains unpaid.
Every day 8 to 10 nurses working on coronavirus wards in Fars province are now showing symptoms of Covid-19, reported Fars University of Medical Sciences.
In the province of Khuzestan some 80 to 100 new coronavirus patients are being hospitalized every day, reported the Ahvaz Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences. In addition, according to the university’s president Dr. Farhad Abolnejadian, 50 percent of the common beds allocated to coronavirus patients in Khuzestan hospitals are presently full, as are all the dedicated ICU beds across the hospitals in the provincial capital of Ahvaz. “Yesterday,” Dr. Abolnejadian added, “we had to ask the army hospital in Ahvaz to make their ICU beds available to us. We also asked Ahvaz Golestan Hospital to make more ICU beds available for coronavirus patients.”
Houshang Bazvand, governor of Kermanshah, reported that coronavirus is claiming the life of one person every hour in his province and if the surge in infections continued, field hospitals would have to be set up. Every day up to 200 new Covid-19 patients are being hospitalized in Kermanshah, with the total number currently standing at 926, but only around 100 are being discharged each day.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for October 28, health ministry’s spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the past 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