With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths rising sharply in Iran— nearly 13,000 confirmed cases and over 600 casualties as of now –the Middle Eastern nation is facing a grave and unprecedented healthcare crisis. According to reliable reports, and posts circulating on social media, hospitals in the country are facing the challenge of acute over-occupancy.
A video shared by Iranian-American journalist Farnaz Fassihi, on her Twitter account, suggests that the problem of shortage of beds has reached a point where hospitals are being forced to set up beds in their parking lots to accommodate overflowing patients.
Beds in parking lots to accommodate patients
The 32-second video shows the parking lot of a hospital where beds have been set up. Rows of beds arranged side by side can be seen across the expanse of the parking space.
This creative repurposing was however not confined to only one level or floor but three. In a follow-up tweet, Fassihi wrote, "Three levels of parking space have been designated for patient beds so far."
Shortage of beds, staff and supplies
Videos emerging supposedly from the Ali Hosseini Khamenei-led nation seem to present a ground reality that suggests that all is not well when it comes to handling the mounting number of cases. Another video shared by Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, earlier last week, showed a man supposedly infected with the coronavirus, collapsed in front of Tehran's Rasoul Akram Hospital. The man could not be taken in as the hospital was overrun by the sheer number of patients.
The shortage of medicine, partly owing to the sanctions imposed by the US, is another problem. A doctor from the Gilan province, told Bloomberg, "Divvying up a small amount of medicine among a large number of patients is a daily headache.''
The province of Gilan is one of the worst affected regions in the country. Qom, an important religious centre, where the outbreak was first reported, is also situated in Gilan. Under the condition of anonymity, the doctor also said that as the number of staff getting infected is rising, a shortage of personnel is causing further disruption.
The scale of the scarcity of beds has also prompted doctors in the country to set up 'tent hospitals' to facilitate the treatment of patients. According to Entekhab, Ali Abrazi, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Qom's School of Medical Sciences, said that five hospitals in the city of Qom were accommodating suspected cases. However, the shortage of beds could not be dealt with. "We were forced to stand up tent hospitals," he said.
Italy and Iran struggle
China, the epicentre of the pandemic, has reported nearly 81,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,100 COVID-19 deaths. However, a decline in the number of new cases has been witnessed over the past few weeks.
On the other hand, Italy and Iran have seen a tremendous increase in the number of infections and deaths. Currently, over 21,000 people have been infected with the disease, and nearly 1,500 have lost their lives in the European country. So far over 140 countries have reported a total of nearly 157,000 cases and almost 5,900 deaths.