The Iranian people’s death toll due to the Coronavirus is taking on new dimensions every day and every week; So much, so that the regime’s media have repeatedly stated that the country’s provinces smell of death.
Reporting on the fifth peak of the virus, the Wall Street Journal of August 13, 2021, wrote, “Iran Hit by Worst Covid-19 Wave Yet as Vaccine Rollout Flounders.”
“Tehran has been slow to import vaccines and reluctant to impose costly lockdowns on its sanctions-hammered economy,” the WSJ added. “Iran was the first coronavirus hot spot in the Middle East, and remains the hardest-hit country in the region, largely due to a botched response from authorities, experts and analysts say.”
On August 17, The Times of London reported, “An Iranian is now dying from coronavirus every two minutes, according to new estimates of a death toll that is rising out of control during a fifth wave of the pandemic in the country.”
The Iranian state media wrote, “Covid deaths in the whole Middle East is equivalent to the Coronavirus deaths in Iran.” (The state-run Hamdeli newspaper – August 29, 2021)
The clerical regime officials said the Coronavirus fatalities in Iran rose by 12.5% in the past few weeks in August. The head of the Food and Drug Administration announced the most unprecedented and severe viral attack on Iran. The Organization of the Medical System declared that the number of Delta variant cases in the emergency rooms is between 2 to 4 times the standard numbers.
Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar, a social harms expert and member of the Scientific Association for Health Education, spoke about the biggest cover-up by the regime’s top brass. He acknowledged, “[Ebrahim] Raisi very well knows that the officially published statistics of the Covid-19 disease in Iran show only the tip of the iceberg, since [the actual statistics] is confidential and out of reach. According to two official and confirmed sources, the actual statistics of Covid-19 disease in Iran are several times higher.” (The state-run Hamdeli newspaper – August 29, 2021)
Trickling vaccination in the heaven of mutant viruses
One can find no family in Iran that does not mourn the loss of their loved ones due to the Coronavirus. The Iranian people know that Khamenei is responsible for the lack of vaccination and the ban on importing accredited vaccines to Iran. Khamenei’s ruling to ban the purchase of the vaccine is tantamount to genocide. Tehran’s Medical University announced that hardly 4% of the population had received two doses of vaccine. One hundred countries are higher than we are, it said. (The state-run Javan news agency – August 26, 2021)
Mohammad Reza Mahboobfar explained that Delta and Lambda mutant viruses would be more dangerous in the fall. He said this about the vaccination process: “Iran has turned into the heaven of mutated Covid viruses in the Middle East and the world for many reasons: the shortage of vaccines; the trickling and slow rate of vaccination; some of the vaccines were donated as a gift, so their credibility is under question; the Health and Foreign ministries purchased the vaccines from unknown sources, and prevent disclosure of the details of their contracts.” (The state-run Hamdeli newspaper – August 29, 2021)
The healthcare system has been stretched to the limit during the pandemic. The healthcare staff and particularly nurses are exhausted. And the regime does not account for any of these problems.
100,000 nurses infected with the virus
80% of nurses in Iran are women. The situation of hospitals is dire. The daily number of new cases of Coronavirus is increasing. “While there should be 2.5 nurses per hospital bed in 24 hours, the shortage of nurses is felt more than ever.” (The state-run salamatnews.com – August 9, 2021)
Armin Zare’ian, the Chairman of the Board of the Nursing System in Tehran, declared that since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, 100,000 nurses across the country had been infected with the virus, 30,000 were in Tehran. “All nurses infected by the Delta variant had received the vaccine.” (The state-run Fars news agency – August 31, 2021)
Talking about the shortage of nurses, Zare’ian said, “There are some 35,000 to 40,000 [accredited] nurses in Tehran who have Nursing System cards. Their numbers must at least double.”
Iranian nurses, and particularly female nurses, have been grappling with various psychological and physical problems. Nevertheless, the Health Ministry has not paid their salaries and benefits. The situation is much worse for most nurses who work on temporary contracts.
Seyyedeh Fatemeh Bahraini, the chair of the Nurses Home in Mashhad, underlined the harms caused to female nurses because of long working hours. “In addition to the severe physical and psychological consequences many female nurses suffered during the pandemic, we saw an increase in the divorce among female nurses. Long and consecutive working shifts during the pandemic did not allow many female nurses to attend to their husbands and children as they did before.” (The state-run ROKNA news agency – August 17, 2021)
Chronic stress and depression without being paid
Female nurses have also struggled with various illnesses during the past 20 months due to high work pressure, including chronic stress and acute depression. The Ministry of Health has abandoned nurses without minimal support. Even pregnant nurses were not transferred to less risky wards, and their working hours were not decreased. Many nurses were unable to use their regular or incentive leaves during the pandemic.
The officials of the Medical Sciences Universities not only opposed the reduction of 44 hours per week to 30 hours, but they also refrained from paying their overtime dues.
Some Medical Sciences universities promised to grant longer leaves to nurses instead of reducing their working hours or paying their overtime dues. However, consecutive peaks of the virus did not allow any leaves for the nurses. Therefore, the nurses received neither their leaves nor their overtime dues nor their regular or incentive benefits.
Under the excuse of losing revenues, public hospitals reduced their benefits and incentive fees considerably. The nurses who worked in the Coronavirus wards received a maximum of 1-million-Toman-per-month incentive benefit. But they did not receive this small amount of bonus for five months since March 2021.
The situation is worse for nurses who work on temporary contracts
The problem is much worse for nurses who work on temporary contracts. Hoping for permanent employment by public hospitals, these nurses signed 89-day contracts.
They worked voluntarily for several months. After the second peak, the Medical Sciences universities signed 89-day contracts with some of the nurses. These contracts do not include benefits, bonuses, or incentives. Their monthly income is less than 4 million Tomans ($148).
Considering the shortage of nurses in Iran during the fifth peak of the Coronavirus, some hospitals have invited their retired nurses to do voluntary work. In this way, they avoid asking for a budget to pay for the salaries of new recruitment. (The state-run salamatnews.com – August 17, 2021)
The clerical regime’s failure to hire new nurses, and its overall failure to employ young and elite forces, has led to a massive brain drain from Iran. “Iran is recognized as the world’s largest exporter of young elites and brains,” reported the state-run ILNA news agency on August 19, 2021.
Dr. Armin Zare’ian, the Chairman of the Board of the Nursing System in Tehran, announced that 500 nurses emigrate from Iran to the U.S. and Europe every month. (The state-run Daneshjoo news agency – April 11, 2021)
Fifth peak deaths among female medical staff
Nurses continue to die in Iran. Inclination to commit suicide has also increased among the exhausted healthcare staff.
Since March 2021, nine young medical students, also known as young residents, have died due to heavy workloads and lengthy and arduous shifts. (The state-run ROKNA news agency – July 31, 2021)
Dr. Sogand Sedaghatnia, a cardiology resident at Imam Hossein Hospital in Tehran, died suddenly due to a heart stroke. She worked in the COVID-19 emergency center, which is more crowded than ever these days.
Due to a heart stroke, Dr. Mahdieh Mazaherian, a cardiology resident, died on August 23, 2021. Exhaustion, physical weakness, and psychological pressure are among the main reasons for the deaths of these residents.
Afsaneh Ehsani, a 26-year-old nurse, died after giving birth to her baby on July 31, 2021. The nurse, who contracted the virus while working at Mehr Hospital, developed severe shortness of breath. She died immediately after giving birth (The state-run Hamshahri Online– August 2, 2020).
Zahra Mehdipoor, a nurse, working in Fouladshahr, Isfahan, and Fatemeh Ameri, another nurse who worked in Bandar Abbas, died after infection with the virus. Mitra Kalbadinejad, medical staff in Sari, the capital of Mazandaran province, also lost her life due to the Coronavirus. (The state-run ROKNA news agency – August 26, 2021)
Women’s employment suffered nine times more than men
After the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, women were more likely to be laid off than men were because they work in the informal sector. Some 60% of the working people in Iran are engaged in informal jobs. (The state-run ISNA news agency – June 18, 2021) One million women who worked in the informal sector were laid off during the pandemic.
According to the quarterly report of the National Statistics Center (NSC), 70% of Iran’s working women had lost their jobs by the summer of 2020, during the pandemic.
The population of active women over the age of 15 is 31 million in Iran. But only 4.7 million or 15.3%of them have jobs. (The state-run IRNA news agency – April 11, 2020)
The NSC reported that out of the 19,953,000 employed men in 2019, about 1.7% lost their jobs in 2020. Of the 4,320,000 employed women in 2019, however, about 15.3% lost their jobs in 2020. Thus, the number of women who lost their jobs in 2020 is nine times greater than men.
Some 71% of the population of unemployed women in Iran have higher education. Statistics show that despite a remarkable increase in the number of female higher education students between 2005 and 2020, only 300,000 new jobs were their share.
While 4 million heads of households in Iran are women, they constitute 45% of the total households and stand in the lowest income decile of the population. (The official women.gov.ir – May 15, 2021)
Most working women are heads of households
Most of the working women who lost their jobs during the pandemic were women heads of households. To support themselves and their families, they resort to low-level, unsustainable jobs, such as peddling. Many women heads of households who lose their jobs add to the multitude of women who peddle on the streets. (The state-run Jam-e Jam newspaper – April 10, 2021)
Women peddlers have suffered many damages during the pandemic. Many women with higher education peddle in the metro stations in Tehran. Most of them are depressed because they spend long hours in a soulless atmosphere. Many have contracted the Covid-19. They spend whatever they earn to pay house rent. Nevertheless, the pandemic has cut down their incomes to half.
In the Kurdish regions, women work as porters or construction workers to earn their family’s living. Older women heads of households endure double pressure when working as porters. Even educated women join the porters since there are no jobs for them.
In a nutshell, women are the first victims of the unemployment crisis in Iran. The state media report that the number of women heads of households is rising day by day. Massoud Faridi, an advisor to the Welfare Organization, underscored that the women-heads-of-households sector swells by 120,000 families per year. (The state-run Mehr news agency – July 18, 2021)
Conditions of women’s prisons
The fifth peak of the Coronavirus in Iran continues to take a heavier toll every day. Simultaneously, the prison conditions are seriously dire and highly unhygienic. For example, in the women’s ward of Evin Prison, dozens of political prisoners contracted the Covid-19.
Detainees in the Qarchak Prison of Varamin suffer from lengthy power outages, and the prison’s water supply is frequently cut off. Lack of detergents, water shortages, and lack of proper air conditioning in the overcrowded wards have made it much more difficult for women to endure confinement.
In such circumstances, Maryam Mirzaei, the deputy director of Qarchak prison, said in response to the prisoners’ protest, “If you have a problem, go on a hunger strike!”
In the case of the Prison of Semnan, this prison lacks the minimum sanitary infrastructures. Inmates have no water to take a bath and take turns to bathe at every hour.
The prison’s sewage system has collapsed, but prison authorities have not taken any action to repair the damage. Instead, they have disconnected the siphons, adding to the sanitation problems in this prison.
Skin diseases are also widespread in the Semnan Prison that does not have any health facility and doctors to attend to the inmates.
Khamenei bears ultimate responsibility for the deaths of over 400,000 Iranians
The latest count on the Coronavirus fatalities in Iran is more than 400,000.
Since the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran in January 2020, the mullahs’ supreme leader has described it as “a blessing” and “an opportunity.” Because after the uprisings of November 2019 and January 2020, he needed an excuse to deal with the growing public discontent and their protests. Hence, he pursued the policy of massive human casualties to paralyze the people. In line with this inhuman policy, he banned the purchase of accredited foreign vaccines, which sent more and more of the Iranian people to the inferno of the Coronavirus.
Khamenei bears the ultimate responsibility for the deaths of more than 400,000 Iranians, the deaths of most of whom were preventable.