In an article published on World Nurses’ Day, May 12, 2020, by Maggie Michael, the Associated Press addressed the dire situation of medical workers in Iran in the face of the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
AP wrote: “They are regarded as heroes, their fallen colleagues as martyrs. But for doctors and nurses still dealing with Iran’s growing number of coronavirus infections, such praise rings hollow.”
About the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran Associated Press wrote, “While crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S. government left the country ill-equipped to deal with the fast-moving virus, some medical professionals say government and religious leaders bear the brunt of the blame for allowing the virus to spread — and for hiding how much it had spread.
“Those medical workers say they were defenseless to handle the contagion. And as a result, doctors and nurses in Iran have been hard hit by the virus. During the first 90 days of the virus outbreak alone, about one medical staffer died each day and dozens became infected.”
“We are heading fast toward a disaster,” AP cited a young Isfahan doctor as saying. He has been working tirelessly, checking dozens of suspected coronavirus patients before referring them to hospitals.
According to the AP, “It is no secret that Iran has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Official government figures show that around 100,000 people were infected by the virus and around 6,500 have died. But a report by the research arm of Iran’s parliament said the number of cases could be eight to 10 times higher, making it among the hardest hit countries in the world. The report said the number of deaths could be 80% higher than official numbers from the Health Ministry, about 11,700.”
“The Iranian government is currently reporting a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in many areas, even though local authorities are expanding cemeteries in places like Tehran where the municipal council said it had to add 10,000 new graves to its largest cemetery, Behesht e-Zahra,” AP reported.
According to the Press, “Iran’s leaders, several medical professionals said, delayed telling the public about the virus for weeks, even as hospitals were filling up with people suffering from symptoms linked to the virus. And even as doctors and other experts were warning the Iranian president to take radical action, the government resisted, fearing the impact on elections, national anniversaries, and the economy.
“‘They wanted to send people to the streets,’ said a Mazandaran-based nurse and activist.
“One doctor interviewed by The Associated Press — who, like all medical workers interviewed for this story, spoke only on the condition that they not be named for fear of persecution — said he and his colleagues were even discouraged from using protective equipment. He said government officials claimed wearing masks would cause panic.”
In another part of the report, AP wrote: “A radiologist based in Tehran told the Associated Press that he had access to medical files of patients at different Tehran hospitals. The reports include CT scans and blood tests that pointed to the coronavirus. But tests were not done.
“’These are 40% of the cases,’ he said, ‘It’s just difficult to prove.’
“’The number of real patients with COVID-19 in Iran, from the beginning … until today is much more than what has been reported,’ he said, echoing similar sentiments by most medical workers interviewed by the AP.
“He estimated that the numbers are three to four times higher than the figures released by the government.
“’The authorities believe they are doing great and they try to keep things out of spotlight,’ a medical scholar said.”