Afreximbank's efforts in providing Covid-19 vaccines for African countries is supported, Maait    Egypt Petroleum Show 'EGYPS' postponed to February 2022    Production index for transformative, extractive industries rises 2.25% in February    Turkey seeks to restore 'historic unity' with Egyptian people, Sisi    Turkey seeks to restore 'historic unity' with Egyptian people: Erdogan    CPC's governance experience inspirational for developing countries, Arab officials say    CIB receives 1st Gender Equity Seal in MENA region, co-chairs Egypt's Closing Gender Gap Accelerator    Altibbi launches first Arabic app thriving with reproductive health in Egypt    Egypt's Nile revenue committee discusses water resources management during peak demand    Egypt, US discuss developments of GERD talks    Egypt, Turkey conclude 'frank, in-depth' talks to restore relations    Egypt, Russia sign declaration marking 2021-2022 as year of joint humanitarian exchange    Elneny's Arsenal targets 'remontada' in Europa League semi-finals    Zamalek eye return to victories at expense of Smouha in Egyptian Premier League    Al Ahly face injuries as they take on Al Ittihad Alexandria    German Ambassador to Egypt inspects New Alamein City projects    Manfalout sanitation plant starts trial operation within 38k-cbm-capacity project    Companies have until 15 May to join e-invoice system: Finance Minister    Arab Parliament calls for Ethiopian response to ongoing efforts on GERD crisis    Small businesses inspiring good this Ramadan    BREAKING: Egypt sets new shop hours amid third coronavirus wave fears    There should be a balance between population, economic growth rates: Sisi    Saudi Arabia reveals new archaeological discovery 'older than Egypt Pyramids'    TV show 'COVID-25' tops Egypt's Twitter trends after premiere    Direct flights between Russia and Egypt will resume in June, Ambassador    Alexandria Festival of Francophone Cinema to take place 18-23 June    Egypt sends 30 tonnes of medical supplies to India amid pandemic crisis    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Blinken presses Ethiopia's Abiy to ensure full withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray    Forces opposed to Somali president control parts of Mogadishu    Nine people executed in Egypt over Kerdasa police killings in 2013    UEFA investigating Ibrahimovic's alleged ties to betting company    61 doctors died from coronavirus since start of April: Egypt's medical syndicate    Egypt targets 5.6% inflation rate in FY2020/21, 6% in FY2021/22    Egypt allocates EGP 132 bln to modernise railway system: Transport minister    Real Madrid not thinking about any Super League sanctions: Zidane    Total declares force majeure on Mozambique LNG after attacks    All the winners at the 93rd Academy Awards    Egypt's Ahly granted approval to build new stadium on Cairo outskirts    Aswan Int'l Women's Film Festival dedicates 5th edition to Kawthar Heikal    BREAKING: Egypt's information minister Osama Heikal resigns amid parliamentary criticism    'War was not Egypt's aim, but peace was the ultimate goal,' Sisi says on Sinai Liberation Day anniversary    Factbox: Key nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    Allianz Egypt partners with IGNITE to equip brand ambassadors for 2021 Olympics    Hassan Allam consortium wins contract to manage, operate Grand Egyptian Museum    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Sanctions-battered Iran, weary of pandemic, faces worst wave
Published in Ahram Online on 22 - 04 - 2021

As Iran faces what looks like its worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic yet, Tehran commuters still pour into its subway system and buses each working day, even as images of the gasping ill are repeatedly shown on state television every night.
After facing criticism for downplaying the virus last year, Iranian authorities have put partial lockdowns and other measures back in place to try and slow the virus' spread.
But in this nation of 84 million people, which faces crushing U.S. sanctions, many struggle to earn enough to feed their families. Economic pressure, coupled with the growing uncertainty over when vaccines will be widely available in the Islamic Republic, have many simply giving up on social distancing, considering it an unaffordable luxury. That has public health officials worried the worst of the pandemic still may be yet to come.
``I cannot stop working,`` said Mostafa Shahni, a worried 34-year-old construction worker in Tehran. ``If I do, I can't bring home bread for my wife and two kids.''
Iran is now reporting its highest-ever new coronavirus case numbers _ more than 25,000 a day. Its daily death toll has surged to around 400, still below the grim record of 486 it reached in November.
During the peak of Iran's last surge, around 20,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized across the country. Today, that figure has topped 40,000. The health ministry warns the number will climb to 60,000 in the coming weeks. Iran remains among the hardest-hit countries in the world and the worst-hit in the Middle East.
Across Tehran, Associated Press journalists have seen signs of the pandemic's toll.
At Tehran's Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital, orderlies pushed the bodies of two victims of the coronavirus across a parking lot to its morgue, one wrapped in white, the other in a black body bag. All of its wards on five floors of the hospital are reserved for coronavirus patients. One empty gurney held a bouquet of roses left for a recently deceased man. A heart-shaped balloon hovered over a still respirator.
At the massive Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, already reeling from the pandemic, workers laid cinder-block rows of new graves. Mourners in black wept at a stream of funerals. Officials plan to open a new morgue at the site to handle the wave of death, much wrought by what Iranians simply call ``corona.''
Saeed Khal, the director of Tehran's main cemetery, said workers buried 350 bodies there on Tuesday alone _ at least 150 had died of coronavirus. The cemetery had never processed that many burials in a single day, not even during Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s that saw 1 million people killed.
It was ``one of the hardest and saddest days for my colleagues in the half-century-history of the cemetery,'' Khal told state TV.
So much is the influx that some burials are being delayed by a day, unusual for Iran which follows the Islamic practice of immediately burying the dead.
Outside the gates of Tehran's Imam Khomeini Hospital complex, where the capital's poor can receive free treatment at its 1,300 beds, scores crowded around one recent day as guards turned away routine cases and allowed in only test-confirmed coronavirus cases.
``They say the wards are full of corona patients,'' said Manijeh Taheri, who sought a regular thyroid treatment for her mother at the hospital. ``I have no idea where to take her when such a huge complex has no place for my mother.''
Field hospitals are being prepared in Tehran and other major cities. State TV has shown images at hospitals outside the capital with patients being treated in hallways.
``We are not going out of the red zone any time soon,'' Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi told state media.
President Hassan Rouhani blames the current surge on the fast-spreading variant of the virus first found in Britain, which the government says arrived from neighboring Iraq. Travel between the countries has been restricted since March, though people and commerce continue to cross each day. Overall, Iran has seen 2.2 million reported cases and 67,000 deaths in total.
Lawmaker Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi blamed government mismanagement and continued U.S. sanctions for the virus' spread.
``Sanctions, challenges and wrong decisions will continue. We do not have sufficient vaccines so protect yourself and your relatives through personal health measures,'' he wrote on Twitter.
As of now, Iran has administered over 500,000 vaccine doses, according to the WHO. Supplies, however, remain limited. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned U.S. and British-made coronavirus vaccines, saying their import is ``forbidden'' because he does not trust those nations. Khamenei has approved the import of vaccines from ``safe'' countries, such as China and Russia, and has backed national efforts to produce a homegrown vaccine with help from Cuba.
But officials keep changing when they say the wider public will be vaccinated as it remains unclear when Tehran will have a promised 60 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
Amir Afkhami, an associate professor at George Washington University, said that over the past year, Iran's leadership could point to superpowers like the U.S. struggling to contain the virus. With vaccines rolled out in the West and economies reopening, this could become much more difficult to do, he said.
``Ultimately Iran is not self-sufficient when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine development, and it doesn't have the (intensive care unit) beds to absorb the patients it needs to so it really needs external help,`` Afkhami said.
Authorities across Iran have closed mosques, restaurants and parks during Ramadan, the Islamic holy fasting month being observed by Muslims around the world. An evening curfew for private cars is in place and travel between cities is banned. Parliament has been suspended for two weeks.
But the wider fatigue from the virus has seen people ignore warnings and host fast-breaking meals known as iftars indoors. Already, authorities blamed celebrations around the Iranian New Year known as Nowruz in March for contributing to this wave.
Masoud Mardani, an infectious disease specialist on Iran's COVID-19 national task force, has demanded a public curfew. But none so far has come.


Clic here to read the story from its source.