Iran Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 12,000

A health official proposed shorter working hours, less employee presence, cancellation of university exams, utilization of e-government solutions, and even a one-week lockdown in Tehran amid a new surge in coronavirus infections
Iran Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 12,000Iran Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 12,000

Deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in Iran crossed the 12,000 threshold on Wednesday, less than five months into the pandemic, as authorities scrambled to curb the spread of the contagion. 
With 153 additional fatalities, Iran's total count reached 12,084 and confirmed cases rose beyond 248,000, up by some 2,690 a day earlier, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Tehran Province was especially a talking point on Wednesday as local authorities argued in favor of the return of strict lockdown measures. 
Head of the province's coronavirus taskforce, Alireza Zali, stressed, "We believe that strict restrictions should be reimposed, even for a short period of time, to give a brief respite to healthcare providers."
The region's overwhelmed hospitals have stoked fears of a disaster as infections continue to rise. On the sidelines of the government's Cabinet meeting, Tehran's Governor-General Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpey said, "To us, Tehran's status is 'red'."
The province is currently in an "alarming" state, one level below "red", which marks regions with the highest virus transmission rates based on a government classification.
Bandpey warned, "If Tehran reaches a point of crisis, it will be very hard to contain it." Tehran's status has been declared as alarming since July 1.  
Some 1.87 million coronavirus tests have been carried out in Iran by laboratories equipped with testing kits designed to detect the disease. Over 209,000 have recovered and 3,300 are occupying intensive care unit beds.



Forceful Intervention

According to Zali, the number of symptomatic patients visiting Tehran's hospitals has reached an all-time high in the past 48 hours, adding that, "Tehran is in need of immediate and forceful intervention."
The official pointed out that the capital is in a "very fragile" state. He noted, "The number of cases, deaths and patients requiring admission to hospitals have been on an upward trend in the past ten days."
In a meeting with Health Minister Saeed Namaki, Zali demanded more control over lockdown measures in Tehran Province for an efficient response to the outbreak.
"Due to a strategic mistake, Tehran was never considered 'red', so even level three and four jobs have not closed."
Level four restrictions include a ban on any cultural and religious gathering, remote working for those with underlying conditions and the closure of zoos and recreation centers. Level three places of business include schools, universities, cinemas and beauty salons.
Zali painted a graphic picture of the status of hospitals in Tehran, saying that over 4,400 in the healthcare system in the capital have contracted the infectious disease.
"Only today, 250 in Tehran's University of Medical Sciences took sick leave," he said.
The official also asked for a revision to the Health Ministry's safety protocols. "Compliance with health measures has reached its lowest levels and the model needs to be revised."
The ministry devised restrictive measures back in April to contain the outbreak while keeping the economy afloat. Adherence to the guidelines dropped drastically in the past month, from some 70% in Tehran to 11%, despite penalties for violation.
Zali asked for shorter working hours, less employee presence, cancellation of university exams, more hospital beds and utilization of e-government solutions. 
He concluded, "If the measures did not suffice, our last recommendation is to resort to a one-week lockdown in Tehran."
Confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide passed the 12 million mark on Wednesday and fatalities rose to 548,000.

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