By M.A. Saki and M. Garshasbi

Leniency toward Covid-19 may prove tragic

October 20, 2020 - 21:20

TEHRAN - Finally, Health Minister Saeed Namaki talked frankly about the lack of enough attention and diligence to contain the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Namaki was expected to issue such warnings and make complaints much earlier.

Namaki who was on a tour of West Azarbaijan province on Tuesday, said it was announced in recent days that anybody who does not wear a face mask will be fined, but asked: “How many people have been fined”?

He added this is true in the case of inter-city traffic, asking “We demanded to close the roads but how many roads were closed?”
The minister warned if this trend continues “we should collect dead bodies from the bottom of rivers.” 

Warning that Tehran has become a super spreader of the Covid-19, the minister said he had seen that in a bus in Tehran about 40 percent of passengers were not wearing face masks. He asked: “Can the infection be controlled in this way?”

He also criticized the responsible officials and bodies for not adding buses to the Tehran bus fleet, saying despite promises since the calendar month of Ordibehesht (April 20-May 20), not even a single bus has been added to the bus fleet.

This is while the spread of the virus, due to mutations, has increased by about 10 times, the minister regretted.
In the rush hours, buses and metro are crowded, making it impossible for passengers to observe enough space to avoid possible infections.

He added if one asks the most qualified virologists when does Covid-19 dies down or when a medicine is found for the disease, they will say they do not know, but certainly they say, “We know that this virus can be controlled from being spread through social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, etc.”

Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry, police, Transport Ministry, and in general, the government, have been excessively showing leniency toward citizens who do not observe health protocols.

Whenever there is more than a one-day holiday, cars hit the roads and carry the virus from one place to another.

Dr. Alireza Zali, who heads the committee in the national task force to combat the coronavirus in Tehran, said on Monday that according to four research studies after holidays of more than one day there is usually an increase in the number of coronavirus patients in Tehran. He said in the first stage there is an increase in the number of outpatients, then inpatients, and after three to four weeks the number of deaths increases.

A lenient approach in dealing with a serious infectious disease like coronavirus, which has so far killed about 1 million people across the world, may prove tragic in Iran, especially as Iran is under the harshest ever sanctions in history, which has made it very difficult for the government to buy medicine to cope with the disease.

Observation of health protocols must be obligatory. Just earnestly requesting people to wear masks, avoid gatherings, or postpone visits to places which are potential hotspots of coronavirus will not work at all.    

Most countries, especially developed countries, have introduced harsh penalties for breaking health protocols. However, after eight months the national task force to combat the coronavirus has declared fines for those ignoring the health protocols. Still, the sum announced is so little that it can hardly prove effective. It is just about two dollars.

We ourselves have noticed that some people shrug off recommendations by people as they refuse to wear masks or observe social distancing in buses or metro.

These persons, who either do not believe in the infectious disease or do not care about the health of other citizens, are in fact violating the rights of others and they should face the consequences of their social behavior.

It should also be acknowledged that the medical staff, physicians, and nurses, are tired. They have been fighting the virus for over eight months and an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients will put more burden on them and make them more vulnerable to the deadly virus.

It is regrettable that due to the carelessness of some irresponsible persons a number of highly competent physicians like Dr. Mohammad Zar’e Joshaghani, the head of Tehran’s Labbafinejad Hospital; Dr. Mohammad Pedram, a prominent pediatric oncologist at Ahvaz Medical Sciences University; and Dr. Mahmoud Noorian, a renowned neurosurgeon at Ayatollah Kashani hospital of Isfahan, as well as several proficient nurses who were at the forefront of the battle against the virus have lost their lives.

The lack of enforceable and concrete measures by responsible bodies has made other health officials angry and impatient. For example, Dr. Minoo Mohraz, a member of the scientific committee to fight coronavirus, has said she does not know why the government does not agree to a two-week lockdown in Tehran to decrease the number of those who are pouring into the hospitals. She says she sees the reason for refusing a lockdown as “political”.

She added, “It is a question for me why the national headquarters to counter coronavirus does not announce lockdown, either they do not take it seriously or there are political reasons behind it.”

Mohsen Hashemi, the chairman of the Tehran City Council, also announced on Sunday that councilors believe that Tehran should announce a lockdown. Pointing to the increase in the number of patients, Hashemi said since air pollution has returned to Tehran with the start of the cold season the immune system of the body becomes more vulnerable in the face of the coronavirus.

A country that has illegally come under the most crippling sanctions in history by an abnormal person at the White House is not by no means permitted to show leniency toward lawbreakers in the campaign to contain the spread of the virus.

More leniency toward citizens ignoring health protocols or state bodies downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus will incur more costs on the government which is already suffering from serious economic problems.

Leniency toward strict enforcement of health protocols is a violation of the rights of citizens and an indirect help to the Trump administration which has sadistically and, of course, illegally cut Iran’s financial transactions with the world.

 PA/MG

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