By Faranak Bakhtiari

Coronavirus crisis: a time for lasting togetherness

April 18, 2020 - 19:2

TEHRAN – In the wake of coronavirus, many people have faced difficulty earning income or finding self-protective products due to lock-down measures, but benefactors stood up and volunteering opportunities cropped up, which highly reflects that togetherness never ends.

Worldwide, more than 2,263,052 people have been infected and at least 154,827 have died since coronavirus erupted in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. Since Saturday, Iran reported over 80,868 infections and 5,031 deaths.

Over the past months, many NGOs, volunteer individuals or teams have been doing particularly thoughtful work on coronavirus fight, joining hands to help each other survive the difficult condition.

However, it is not possible and beyond our abilities to name all the volunteers and philanthropists who dedicated themselves to handle a pandemic of this magnitude helping those unable to pay for health care and the necessary supplies, we named some of them to remind that coronavirus is an opportunity to make the world a better place.

Mohammad Reza Hojjati, a volunteer physician who has gone far to assist the medical staff and patients, told The Tehran Times on Saturday that “Since the onset of the outbreak, I volunteered to visit patients infected with the disease in two hospitals in Tehran.”

“However, after ten days of offering medical services, I showed symptoms of the disease and tested positive, so that I preferred to stay at home not to occupy a bed in the hospital and leave it for the patients suffering severe conditions,” he explained.

“As soon as I recovered, I started coordination to help patients more and even the staff, so, I began searching for the benefactors and even officials to ask them for help whether a slight one.”

“So far, we could provide high-quality food for the medical staff for several weeks, with the help of donors,” he said.

“We also could find manufacturers to provide the health workers with gowns, face shields, and masks, adding, we are currently coordinating to receive tablets for the patients to provide them with online contact with their families during the hospitalization period.”

“We have so far found some volunteer psychologists reaching out to see if the patients need help, as they burden high levels of stress, isolation, and fear,” he also said.

Ehsan Rouzbahani, another coronavirus-focused volunteer, said that initially, the disinfection fleet began to operate, with the help of volunteer forces and through the next stages, other services were provided to the local people and other neighboring hospitals and deprived areas.

“Our team offers 24-hour services with a capacity of 400 people, consisting of men and women, working in four shifts.” 

Disinfection all passages and public spaces is done daily with a capacity of 7000 liters per day, he noted, adding, “We have established a system for services requested by local people and provision of free services, which include disinfection of houses, daily purchases, and delivery services to reduce traffic, medical screening tests, provision of nutritious foods such as fruit juice, honey, and lemons for coronavirus patients.”

Production of masks for public and supply of four hospitals in the city that are involved in the coronavirus issue with a capacity of 2000 masks per day, production of medical gowns and face shields, as well as hand disinfectant with a capacity of 1500 liters per day, are among the activities which have been done so far. 

Besides, production and packaging of 500 bottles of juice per day for medical staff of hospitals and patients, holding family cultural and social competitions in social media and providing medical and legal counseling services, providing health care items for children with the participation of 500 people, and providing food packages for the financially struggling individuals are also some other ways we are dealing with the epidemic.

Seyed Ali Shoja’at, a 42-year-old volunteer, also reached out to help those in need by providing hundreds of food packages, and deliver the packages to the identified people.

He said that “We will step forward to help combat the pandemic and that we are preparing for the next phase of the help, which is the distribution of food packages among people in underprivileged areas.”

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