Photo: Reuters

Iran still most virus-infected state in the Mideast

Iran’s fatality rate from coronavirus rose to 3,294 today as it claimed 134 lives in the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur.

The Islamic Republic’s top health official said on state television that the total number of people confirmed to be stricken by the disease is 53,183; while 4,035 are “under observation,” interpreted as meaning they may be in critical condition. Jahanpur also said that 17,935 citizens have recovered.

Iran is the country most affected in the Middle East by the pandemic.

Streets and shops are shuttered across the capital of Tehran and train stations were deserted as the country introduced further restrictions on movement outside. Inter-city travel has been banned by the government, which warned of a potential surge in coronavirus cases after many Iranians defied calls to cancel travel plans for celebration of the Nowruz Persian New Year holiday on 20 March. So far, the Ayatollah Regime has held back from imposing a full lockdown.

Tehran resident Saeed Ghiasian told Reuters that ”We haven’t reached the total quarantine situation yet. Quarantine means what was in China and no one could pass on the streets.” Another local identified as Mohsen Ghaderi said most people have stayed indoors during the outbreak while others continue to venture outdoors for basic supplies. He also complained that ”The rich have all gone to their villas and are having fun, and the people here are not financially inclined, otherwise, they would have fun too.”

At a Cabinet meeting broadcast live, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said ”Coronavirus is not a matter of saying one day it will be completely over. Coronavirus may be with us for months to come, (it) may be by the end of the year.”

The largest shopping mall has been turned into a huge temporary health center after coronavirus patients flooded hospitals across the Islamic Republic. The “Iranmall,” located in Tehran, is among the world’s largest shopping malls. Another international exhibition center in the city was also previously turned into a temporary facility to treat sufferers of COVID-19.

Many doctors and nurses who have reportedly died in the line of duty are being hailed as “martyrs.”

It remains unknown how the crisis that threatens to overwhelm Iran’s healthcare system reached such proportions. It has been reported that flights between Tehran and Beijing continued unchecked even at the peak of the outbreak in China where the disease originated; when thousands of cases confirmed in January and February.