The rise in new cases of Covid-19 in Iran, now variable at the highest since the start of the epidemic, worries the authorities, who are increasing the warnings and urging the population not to forget that the disease is still there.
“Failure to respect social distancing, personal or public hygiene rules as well as unnecessary travel can have irreparable consequences”, warns Thursday a looping banner on the state television news channel.
The same channel, however, broadcasts several times a day against the backdrop of dramatic music, an animated infographic instilling the message that, in the face of the epidemic, Iran is doing much better than many other countries.
More than 3,000 new cases daily since Monday
After hitting a low point on May 2, the number of new daily cases of contamination announced by the authorities began an upward trend which accelerated further this week.
Since Monday, the indicator has risen above the 3,000 mark and even set a record Thursday, with 3,574 new patients identified in 24 hours. According to official figures – which foreign experts but also some Iranian officials suspect to be largely underestimated – the virus has killed 8,071 people in Iran out of a total of nearly 164,270 people infected since the first cases reported in February.
This makes the Islamic Republic the country in the Middle East most affected by the pandemic, but places it far behind the leading countries of nations affected by the virus. This increase in contamination could be linked to the multiplication of tests, of which more than a million have been carried out according to the Ministry of Health, while screening is becoming more systematic.
The number of daily deaths, which fell below 100 in April, seems to have stabilized for three weeks at around 70. President Hassan Rouhani does not miss an opportunity to recall how well his government has managed, according to him, the crisis health – despite a situation made particularly difficult by the American sanctions – by comparison with European countries or the United States, sworn enemy of the Islamic Republic and country most affected by the virus.
But his Minister of Health, Saïd Namaki, a doctor by profession, and his assistants hold a much less successful speech. Quoted Tuesday by the Isna news agency, Mr. Namaki was worried “that people have become completely reckless in the face of the disease.”
Since April, the authorities have gradually lifted restrictions and measures intended to stem the spread of the epidemic. In Tehran, life has resumed an almost normal course: the traffic jams characteristic of this megalopolis of some 10 million inhabitants have returned, we again crowd the streets, and we crowd in public transport, where wearing a mask is compulsory.
People “either trust us completely or think the coronavirus is gone”
In Darband, departure for hikes from the north of the capital on the slopes of Mount Totchal, and popular with the population for its restaurants which stretch along a torrent bringing some freshness when temperatures rise to 38 ° C. , an AFP journalist noted last Friday that hikers and strollers crossed without any respect for the rules of physical distancing.
People “either trust us completely or think the coronavirus is gone. And this last claim is completely false, ”Namaki warned.
Quoted by state television, the minister denounces misconceptions, such as that “according to which the danger of the coronavirus recedes with the heat of the summer”.
In its scrolling messages, the television still quotes Mr. Namaki lamenting that “some people and some officials do not take seriously (the threat of) coronavirus”.
His deputy, Iraj Harirchi, asks to reduce “unnecessary trips and trips”, “strongly” recommends wearing a mask and regrets that the population is, according to him, much less convinced than before of the need to respect the instructions. sanitation and staying at home, says the television.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Kianouche Jahanpour, also recalled Wednesday that nine of the 31 provinces of the country are in a state of “health alert” while that of Khouzestan (southwest) remains “red”, situation of maximum risk.