By Jubin Katiraie
The Iranian medical community and the Iranian people have been enraged by the Health Minister’s empty gesture that was supposed to thank Iranian nurses for their heroic efforts during this unprecedented healthcare crisis.
In his ridiculous post, the Health Minister used a picture of a Brazilian nurse when thanking those who are dubbed Iran’s angels by the public. It is not clear why he did this either.
In response, Ms. Lirabi, a nurse who works with coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the Jesus, Son of Mary Hospital in Isfahan, posted an image of her blistered face, damaged by the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they have to wear for long periods at a time.
She wrote: “Give this image to the Health Minister, and tell him he does not need to find the photos of Brazilians to thank the efforts of the medical staff!”
The medical staff is risking their lives to treat patients during this crisis, with many of them contracting the disease and several of them dying. Those infected include infectious disease expert Dr. Maedeh Najafi from Beheshti Hospital in Kashan who was diagnosed and hospitalized recently.
The government has claimed that the virus is under control and that the country will be able to resume non-essential work – those who have been able to stay home anyway – but this is a lie. Even Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raissi admits that the death and infection rates are “several times the number we have announced”. (For reference, on April 16, Alireza Zali, head of Tehran’s Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, said that nearly 400 new patients were hospitalized in the capital for Coronavirus in just 24 hours.)
Re-opening the country will have a disastrous effect on the healthcare system and put extra pressure on nurses; many of whom are working several shifts in a row, sleeping on the hospital floor, and have not seen their families for three months.
But the government doesn’t care about that. They just want to stop the true death toll from leaking, so they’ve even closed the internal portal for the National Civil Registration and told the medical sciences universities in every province not to provide statistics of Coronavirus deaths and infections. While in March Tehran Civil Registration didn’t publish their monthly table showing causes of deaths in the province.