October 23, 2020
The coronavirus crisis in Iran has now engulfed the whole country, including small towns and rural regions. Everywhere has been hard hit by the pandemic. Hospitals are running out of beds, or already have. Infections within families are on the rise, with entire households having to be hospitalized. As patients arrive at hospitals, many of them have to wait for beds to become available. According to official statistics, an average of more than 300 coronavirus patients have died each day over the last few days.
In Iran’s capital, the crisis is getting worse every day. Dr. Alireza Zali, director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, reported that health workers are exhausted and Tehran is facing a shortage of medical manpower. He also reported that police officers have begun stepping in to enforce the greater restrictions. However, despite the fact that the taskforce approved lockdowns and fines for people who violate regulations imposed to tackle the spread of coronavirus more than three weeks ago, little has been done to enforce these decisions. Even government agencies have refused to enforce them, opting for “guiding” people by issuing warnings.
“In other countries, when a person tests positive for coronavirus he is kept under surveillance so that he will not break quarantine, but here he is released immediately after he is tested positive,” said Dr. Mostafa Ghanei, chairman of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Scientific Committee, in a TV interview.
The public have tended to ignore the restrictions announced by the National Coronavirus Taskforce and the Rouhani administration. In mid-October it was announced that during the three-day holiday weekend five metropolitan areas, including Tehran, would be quarantined and travelers would not be allowed to leave or enter these metropolitan areas but, in practice, the measure was not enforced and it contributed little to reducing the number of travelers. Judging by statements issued by some officials, this behavior was expected.
“We have always advised against holiday traveling under these difficult conditions and, God willing, we will have a plan for next week,” said Mahmoud Vaezi, a government spokesman. The plan was due to be discussed on October 22 and October 23 as part of meetings between President Rouhani and various committees of the National Coronavirus Taskforce.