How Iran is responding to the coronavirus outbreak

Fars News recommends people change their diets and focus on traditional herbs and medicine.

Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize indoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize indoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran is continuing its downward spiral as the coronavirus pandemic ravages its society. All Iranian media are now focusing on the virus, with various reports about attempts to fight it, the weakness of the Iranian economy in the face of the disaster and information for the public about the virus and methods to fight it.
An alarming report at ISNA media in Iran sheds light on the disaster. These are official reports that reflect the regime narrative but still illustrate what has happened and the concerns of officials about how bad it will get.
The report says more than three million people recently have traveled to virus-hit areas. The virus came to Iran from China via Qom and Tehran. It has not affected peripheral areas or minority communities as much as the heartland.
An adviser to the Health Ministry said the country has set up a cross-sector coordination base named for Qasem Soleimani. More than 6,000 nurses and doctors have been sent to five hospitals specifically for fighting the pandemic and are supported by the army and the IRGC.
There will be 20 new temporary clinics set up with the army’s support across the country, 100,000 liters of disinfectant have been gathered and 6,000 more beds created for victims of the crisis.
The Health Ministry wants to screen up to 38 million people, although it is not clear how it can accomplish this task. Iran is getting some aid to fight the virus, but not enough. It claims it is performing 6,000 tests a day and has done 58,000 in total.
The Health Ministry, acting on the supreme leader’s orders, has been wasting its time trying to determine if the virus is a “biological attack” that was created by the United States. It has devoted resources to researching this, the ISNA report said. It believes, according to conspiracy theories put out by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the virus may be specifically targeting Iranians through some kind of gene or DNA manipulation that makes them susceptible. This nonsense theory was put forward by government spokesmen, apparently as a way to deflect from their own failures to confront the virus in February.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has rejected US aid as a “big lie.” In Tehran province, orders have gone out to close most nonessential industries. The presidential order seeks to keep convenience stores and supermarkets and pharmacies open while closing other industries. With 1,800 official deaths and 23,000 infected, the country is also advising citizens not to attend funerals.
The country is still trying to weave together several narratives at once. The Foreign Ministry has asked for relief from US sanctions, arguing they are immoral during the crisis. The country refuses US assistance while at the same time the supreme leader says the disease is a biological weapon used by the US against Iran. In line with the IRGC’s and supreme leader’s views, the media linked to these narratives, such as Tasnim, print reports about the virus being a “CIA plot” and “biological weapon.”
The Health Ministry must confront complaints from average people that it misled them about the danger in February. A recent statement by the ministry said it was unaware of rumors that the virus had come to Qom on February 6. In fact, the ministry denied the virus was a problem until after the February 21 elections, by which time up to 1,000 people were infected.
Iran’s media has other recommendations. Fars News recommends that people change their diets and focus on traditional herbs and medicine. It says they should practice “deep breathing” and other exercises. The same media asks “where is God” and consults a cleric who assures them that God could destroy the virus in a second.
The Health Ministry warns against “Islamic cures” that are being pushed by some clerics. They suggest prosecutors arrest those promoting bogus cures.


Tags Iran COVID-19