Iran sets record daily deaths from coronavirus

Iran marked its highest daily mortality rate in the coronavirus pandemic as hospitals are increasingly overstretched amid an exponential influx of new cases.

al-monitor An Iranian woman wearing a face mask waits for a train carriage at a metro station in the capital Tehran on June 10, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic crisis.  Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 7, 2020

The coronavirus daily mortality rate in Iran hit 200, the highest figure since the onset of the outbreak in late February. According to the latest statistics released by Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat-Lari, the new rate pushed the total number of deaths close to the 12,000 mark.

The new record was announced as nine provinces remained "red spots" and nine others exhibited signs of an alarming status. While the official figure for the total confirmed cases stood below 246,000, a member of the National Committee to Combat Coronavirus said up to 18 million Iranians — around 20% of the entire population — are estimated to have already contracted the virus.

Against a relative respite from the outbreak in the past few weeks, the capital city of Tehran appeared to be witnessing a rapid resurgence. Head of the Tehran City Council Mohsen Hashemi told reporters the number of coronavirus victims buried in the city’s main cemetery had more than tripled on July 6. Those alarming figures have now prompted calls for a reimposition of strict measures that were lifted to help reopen the mega city's economy.

The spike in new infections is also overstretching the leading medical centers. “Worrisome pictures” have gone viral showing the parking lot in one of those hospitals where new patients have to receive treatment until beds become available in the main wards. Similar reports of overwhelmed hospitals came from hard-hit and underdeveloped areas, including Kurdistan and Khuzestan provinces, while age groups between 20 and 40 are increasingly falling victim to the virus.

President Hassan Rouhani's administration has been under fire over a “premature” rollback of lockdowns in the hot spots, where mosques are hosting worshippers and the typically overcrowded public transportation lines have resumed normal operations. The president, who has been particularly underestimating the disease, made his first public appearance in a protective mask only last week after he agreed to the mandatory use four months into the outbreak.

As the first responders battling the pandemic on the frontlines, Iranian medical workers are also complaining louder than ever about the massive burden on their shoulders. From due salaries and layoffs to 72-hour nonstop working shifts, everything has only contributed to an accumulation of “fatigue.” Yet that’s not where the grim situation ends. “We are currently in our worst mental status. Many of us are grappling with depression,” said one female nurse in an interview with Reformist daily Aftab-e-Yazd. She added, “There is no moral support either, no therapy … nothing is being done to tackle the problem.”

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