During a live briefing on Instagram April 14, Iran’s health minister, Saeed Namaki, showed a photo he said was of an Iranian nurse with sores on her face from wearing masks all day long. He praised Iranian medical workers for their courage in facing the COVID-19 crisis, contrasting them with doctors and nurses in other countries who “have taken to the streets” as soon as they don’t have enough equipment. But there was a problem: the woman he showed is indeed a nurse fighting the virus but in Brazil, not Iran.
Iran’s Health Ministry has been accused of downplaying the real number of coronavirus deaths in Iran, and of being responsible for a lack of protective equipment that has contributed to the deaths of dozens of doctors and nurses.
During the session Namaki said: “To get an idea of how much pressure our colleagues are under, just look at this photo. It’s the image of a colleague, one of my sisters, an image that was sent to me from one of our hospitals. She is a dear nurse who works in an ICU [intensive care unit]. This is what happened to her beloved face after hours of torture wearing a mask. In other countries, nurses and doctors facing equipment shortages have taken to the streets.”
However, the Iranian health minister used a photo of a nurse from Brazil, Amanda Ramalho, who posts photos from the hospital in Rio de Janeiro where she treats coronavirus-infected patients. Her photograph appeared on a page called Diaries From the Field that features health care workers from around the world.
The photos that Brazilian nurse Amanda Ramalho has shared on her Instagram page.
It is unclear why Namaki chose the photo because there are many photos of Iranian medical workers with the same injuries on their faces circulating on social media, as well as photos of nurses and doctors who lost their lives fighting the virus in Iran.
In another article, I talked to11 doctors and nurses from cities around Iran spoke of shortages of equipment and medical supplies in the hospitals where they work, and of their own fear of being infected.