While Europe has been slowly reopening after lockdowns meant to halt the spread of Covid-19, Iran is in the grips of a second deadly wave of the virus. Hospitals across the country are filling up and our Observers say, in some regions, they’ve already run out of beds. While the government is still reporting relatively low numbers of cases, our Observers say this just doesn’t reflect the situation on the ground. They report overwhelmed hospitals and towns plunging back into lockdown. Of the country’s 31 provinces, 14 have been declared coronavirus “red zones”, the most serious indicator.
Since 22 May, the Zagros mountain range in southwestern Iran has been ravaged by forest fires spreading across thousands of hectares. Iran is woefully underprepared to deal with the country’s hot season because of a lack of resources and budget, and so extinguishing the fire falls to volunteers.
Parkour athlete Alireza Japalaghy shot to fame on Instagram for his photos of daring stunts on the roofs of Tehran. His account now has more than 90,000 followers. But it wasn’t photos of his dangerous jumps that caught the attention of Iranian authorities – it was photos of him kissing a woman.
On May 10 Iran’s navy tested an anti-ship missile in the Gulf of Oman, but something went wrong and the missile hit a support vessel, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 more. Video supposedly showing the incident was widely shared on Arab-language social media and broadcast on the Al Arabiya network. But the video, in fact, shows an exercise by the Norwegian navy in 2013.
Dozens of Afghan migrants are feared dead after Iranian border guards allegedly forced them into a river on the Iran-Afghan border on May 1. Of the 57 men and boys in the group, only 12 are known to have survived. One of the survivors told the France 24 Observers he and the others were arrested and tortured by guards from an Iranian border post overlooking the Harirud river.
People across Iran have been shocked by grisly videos posted online in mid-April that show chicken farmers burying thousands of baby chicks alive. While the videos led to a massive outcry, one farmer told me why the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 left many of his fellow farmers with no choice.
Iran, like many other countries hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, has closed schools and universities and prioritized online learning. But in a country where there is widespread poverty and some regions have no internet coverage at all, some students are locked out of virtual classrooms.
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.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, many Iranians have criticized how religious authorities have handled the crisis. Some blame the country’s ayatollahs – high-ranking Islamic clerics – for not only blocking necessary health measures but also promoting traditional Islamic medicine, which has already cost lives.
As Iran’s official death toll from the COVID-19 virus climbs to 1,812, doctors and nurses battling the virus around the country say they are at risk of infection because they lack basic equipment like masks and full-coverage protective suits.