By Pouyan Khoshhal
December 18, 2020
Iranian officials have warned that air pollution could make people more vulnerable to catching and fighting Covid-19. With the arrival of the cold season, health ministry officials warn that the increase in air pollution will likely lead to respiratory disorders, which will then bring serious medical complications for anyone who contracts coronavirus .
Hossein Moghadam, the CEO of Tehran’s Vehicle Inspection Center, said that, as a result of the pandemic, the number of single-passenger cars has increased because people are using public transport less. The number of taxi services hailed online has now risen to between 300,000 and 400,000 rides in Tehran.
Moghadam pointed out that air pollution is a multidimensional problem and many factors contribute to it including “climatic elements such as wind and rain, factories that emit pollutants and vehicles and motorcycles.”
Iran Launches Production of Coronavirus Treatment Drug Remdesivir
Four weeks after lockdowns went into effect across Iran, provincial officials have voiced hope that the latest wave of coronavirus has been contained. Nevertheless, worries persist about Yalda, the night of the winter solstice and the longest night in the year in the northern hemisphere, which Iranians traditionally celebrate by gathering together with family members and close friends. This year the holiday falls on December 21 and health officials have advised Iranians to celebrate and gather together online and refrain from meeting in person to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Iran has launched its production line for the drug Remdesivir, which has been effective in treating Covid-19, according to numerous reports from global media. Health Minister Saeed Namaki attended the official event to launch the initiative and said: “We believe even if this drug is slightly effective, we should develop the capacity in the country to produce it,” adding that necessary arrangements had been put in place to issue permits to pharmaceutical companies for the production of Remdesivir. He also said he believed Iran’s efforts to develop a vaccine for coronavirus will definitely result in success.
According to the latest figures, 12 cities in Iran are still in a red, or emergency, state of alert. Namaki predicted that in the following week no city would be classified as red, and this would mean that restrictions would be eased more and more. However, he warned people to take coronavirus seriously and not to return to what he described as the carelessness of the past.
“We are worried about Yalda and people should know that more than 65 percent of infections are reportedly the result of family gatherings,” Namaki said. “We must not let our efforts to shorten this long night turn into a long grief.”
The Caspian port city of Anzali in Gilan province is in a red state of alert and appropriate restrictions in the area have been put in place, announced Mehdi Kazemian, spokesman for Anzali Free Trade Zone Organization. These restrictions, which will remain in place until further notice and in line with the guidance of the coronavirus taskforce, include the lockdown of all non-essential businesses and services, a ban on vehicles with local license plates from leaving the city and on vehicles with out-of-town licenses from entering the city, as well as the closing of tourist areas.
Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, announced that the number of coronavirus infections in Tehran is on a downward trend, despite expectations to the contrary because of the population concentration and other factors. He added that when the vaccine becomes available, priority will be given to high-risk groups and medical staff.
In a recent decision taken by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, during the Yalda festival, December 19 and 21, the lockdown of businesses and a traffic curfew will start at 6pm and will last until the early hours of the next morning.
According to Dr. Zali, based on various indicators, Tehran will remain in an orange state of alert for one more week and restrictions will correspond to this state of alert. “Nevertheless,” he said, “in dealing with contagious diseases and epidemics there is a phenomenon termed ‘relapse’ and, therefore, we must regard the situation as fragile because at any moment the numbers might climb again.”
In the 24-hour period spanning December 15 and December 16, 53 new patients with Covid-19 symptoms were hospitalized in Alborz, bringing the total number of hospitalizations in the province to 489, reported Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. With the death of three more patients with coronavirus, the province’s death toll now stands at 2,484.
In the last 24 hours the number of coronavirus fatalities in Semnan fell to zero and 62 new cases were registered. Since the outbreak of coronavirus up to December 16, 19,896 confirmed cases have been identified in the province and 822 people with a confirmed case have died. Currently 151 patients are hospitalized across the province.
In Razavi Khorasan, about 4,000 nurses have been infected with coronavirus since the pandemic started; nine of them have died. Currently more than 10,000 nurses work in hospitals and treatment centers run by Mashhad University of Medical Sciences.
In Kermanshah, of the 304 coronavirus patients in hospitals, 24 are in a serious condition and need ventilators to help them breathe. “The number of hospitalizations is falling by the day,” said Mohammad Mehdi, spokesman for Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences’ coronavirus taskforce. “In just the last 24 hours, only 81 new patients with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized and 73 patients were discharged from the hospitals.” He said if the trend continues, this would mean the third wave of coronavirus in the province has been contained.
In the last 24 hours, six Covid-19 patients died in Kermanshah and the coronavirus death toll in the province now stands at 1,389.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for December 16, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
Dr. Lari reported that currently 12 cities are in a red state of alert, 288 are orange and 148 are yellow.