By Jubin Katiraie
The coronavirus is killing increased numbers of Iranian healthcare workers who are working on the front lines in under-equipped hospitals with a lack of basic personal protective equipment.
Reports from locals in Saqqez say that 40 healthcare workers in the Khomeini hospital have contracted coronavirus and that the staff is now quarantined in their homes without considering their critical conditions.
Because of the disastrous decision, a 40-year-old nurse died on Monday. Mohammad Yar Ahmadi contracted coronavirus while treating patients at the hospital.
On April 4, Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi, the president of the Medical Council, gave an interview to the state-run Hamshahri daily about healthcare workers contracting coronavirus.
He said: “To date, 170 doctors and nurses in Qom have contracted COVID-19, and 37 of them have died.”
Zafarghandi then acknowledged that the government had not taken coronavirus seriously when it was first detected in Iran and that if it had, the situation might be better controlled.
He said: “The entrance of the disease to the country was not taken seriously. If control measures were implemented in earnest, we naturally wouldn’t have been dealing with such widespread contagion of the virus.”
In other provinces, the situation regarding medical staff is worse, with more of the workers becoming infected.
On April 5, nurses in Emam Reza Hospital, which is one of the main health centers in Mashhad, held a rally to protest being denied proper protective equipment and having to use non-standard masks and equipment. They said that several nurses have contracted coronavirus because authorities are negligent and cannot provide access to standard health masks.
On April 3, an Iranian lawmaker told the state-run ILNA News Agency that the lack of personal protective equipment has led to a high death rate for hospital staff and first responders.
Bahram Parsaie said a high number of doctors and nurses have now died.
On March 20, the state-run Tasnim news agency quoted Abdulreza Fazel, president of the Medical Sciences University of Golestan Province in Gorgan, as saying that 350 medical staff in Golestan Province have contracted respiratory diseases, which is suspected to be coronavirus, since mid-February.
On March 18, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, Secretary-General of the Nurses Home, said: “Necessary measures are not taken to maintain the health of nurses. From the shortage of masks, gloves, scrubs and other equipment to the shortage of nursing staff that has forced nurses to care for more coronavirus patients in hospitals.”