The corona situation is coming to a head in Iran. A high number of new infections is pushing the clinics to the limit, and vaccines are still missing. A planned partial lockdown misses the reality of the people.
The anger of the people in Tehran can currently be clearly felt. Within a few seconds, a crowd forms when Western journalists and media representatives ask locals on the street for their opinion on the government’s corona management. Most of them are very dissatisfied. “The state should support us, but it just doesn’t,” says a young man wearing a dark t-shirt with the US flag on it. “I am a simple worker. I would like to stay at home, but if there is no support we are all forced to go to work.”
The Islamic Republic is currently facing a peak in new infections: mid April, it was almost 25,000 within one day. In the same period, 291 corona deaths were registered, reported the Ministry of Health. The situation in the capital Tehran is particularly bad. According to the media, extra shifts had to be put in at the central cemetery because of the many corona deaths.
Mass vaccinations only from September
Corona vaccination could help. But so far the country has introduced very few vaccines. The government blames the economic crisis and US sanctions. Many Iranians accuse the leadership of playing dangerous lives with people. In early January, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei refused to import certain vaccines from the West.
The first deliveries should already be made from Russia, and further negotiations with Moscow are to be ongoing. In addition, the government in Iran is relying on its own vaccine. The result: mass vaccinations for the approximately 83 million people in the country will not be available until September, according to the current status.
The situation in Tehran’s hospitals is already alarming. According to the governor, all beds available for corona patients have been occupied since the beginning of the week. The Ministry of Health blames a wave of travel around the Iranian New Year celebrations at the end of March and beginning of April for the rapid increase.
The ministry has received a lot of ridicule for this in the social networks: the state has often done nothing, even those who have proven positive could have traveled across the country even though they were registered with the authorities by cell phone.
Shopkeepers and day laborers under pressure
Now the government is trying to take countermeasures: Since last weekend, a partial lockdown has been in place in many parts of the country. In Tehran it looks like this: shops, restaurants and schools are closed. The Grand Bazaar, the heart of Tehran, also had to close. Nevertheless, there is a lot of activity on the streets around it, many day laborers work here: shoe cleaners, moped couriers or street vendors, they all depend on every penny. “Are you also closing the tax authorities? No, it is still open,” says a man in a short-sleeved polo shirt. “This system can only do one thing: put us under pressure. It thrives on the crises in the country.”
In the bazaar itself, there is a complete standstill. The shops are locked with iron gates, only a few suppliers drive mopeds through the long corridors that connect the different wings of the bazaar. The area extends over ten kilometers through the southern center of the city and is home to around 10,000 shops that sell everything that is necessary in daily life: groceries, household goods, clothing and much more.
A small shop has opened its metal gate slightly, the light is on. Inside there are two traders, they usually sell fabrics. The current situation is very stressful for them, both say. Their savings are completely used up. They, too, report that they do not receive any support from the state: “It would be good if they didn’t take taxes from us for at least a year,” says one of the two. “Unfortunately they don’t do that.” You have already experienced many crises in Iran, now you are at a loss.