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Special Features

Are Refugees Able to Socially Distance in Iranian Camps?

September 3, 2020
Pouyan Khoshhal
6 min read
President Rouhani ordered the education ministry to make its remote learning network free to students
President Rouhani ordered the education ministry to make its remote learning network free to students
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, in the city of Tehran alone, at least 10,684 have died of Covid-19 and an average of 45 people are still dying every day
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, in the city of Tehran alone, at least 10,684 have died of Covid-19 and an average of 45 people are still dying every day
Infections in the province of Qom are once again increasing at an alarming rate, according to the Qom University of Medical Sciences
Infections in the province of Qom are once again increasing at an alarming rate, according to the Qom University of Medical Sciences

Refugees entering Iran illegally may be at risk of contracting coronavirus in camps where they are being held, Persian media based outside Iran has revealed.  

Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari said that an average of 672,000 illegal foreign nationals in Iran are "deported every year," and, due to the coronavirus pandemic, those who enter the country are currently being kept in camps for a more extended period than usual, according to a Radio Farda report. 

However, Zolfaghari was not explicit about whether social distancing and other measures to contain the deadly virus were being implemented in Iran's refugee camps. Earlier, on August 23, Zolfaghari had claimed that all foreign nationals infected with coronavirus would receive medical treatment free of charge in Iran. But these camps may be failing to implement social distancing and meet the necessary hygiene standards.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran, 2,852 foreign nationals have contracted coronavirus and 294 of them have died.


Schools to Open in Three Days

Officials continued saying what has become a haunting refrain: Schools will reopen on September 5. The regularity with which they say it indicates the government is willing to put children back in the classroom at any price. Where it has been proven to be impossible — in areas of the country that remain on an emergency or “red” state of a alert and where public health is clearly at risk — ministers have said that the state broadcaster will offer educational programs on television and that apps will be made available for remote learning.

President Rouhani instructed the head of the Plan and Budget Organization and the ministers for education and communications and information technology to ensure that public schools and students are able to use the education ministry’s SHAD remote learning network free of charge. “Families previously had to pay for the internet to use this network but today I ordered that use of the SHAD network must be free to families and students,” he announced on September 2.

A few hours later, communications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi reiterated that the SHAD network would be free. However, he added that remote learning would not stop there: students would have access to SHAD but also what he described as “designed packages” that offer even more for students needing to learn outside the classroom. As of September 2, Jahromi said, 86,000 schools across the country had been connected to the internet and the ministry was working to connect 1,000 universities as well.

While education minister Mohsen Haji-Mirzaei insisted that students must go to school starting on September 5, Ali Bagherzadeh, the head of the Coordination Center at the ministry announced that in-person attendance at schools would not be mandatory. “The family can choose to send the student to school or use other services such as educational programs on TV or the SHAD remote learning network,” he said.

The reopening of schools will mean more use of public transportation, warned Dr. Alireza Zali, the director of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. “What makes the reopening of schools twice as worrisome is the increase in the use of public transportation.” As of September 2, while educational institutes were still inactive,” he said, “850,000 people use the metro and 800,000 ride buses every day and there are around 75,000 cabs in service.”


Provinces Round-up

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, in the city of Tehran alone 10,684 have died of Covid-19. Many of the bodies have been taken to Behesht Zahra Cemetery, according to Nahid Khoda-Karami, a member of Tehran City Council. According to the death certificates provided to Behesht Zahra Cemetery, she wrote, the number of coronavirus fatalities in Tehran has declined. “Of course, this does not mean that all of 10,684 bodies were buried at Behesht Zahra, because many families want to take their loved ones to their birthplace,” she added.

According to her, currently an average of 45 Covid-19 patients die in Tehran every day.

“Coronavirus infections in Qom are increasing at an alarming rate,” said Dr. Mohammad Reza Ghadir, president of Qom University of Medical Sciences. “This increase is happening while the rate of infections in other provinces is falling.

“Tehran was supposed to send 400,000 masks to Qom but, as of now, we have not received a single one,” said Dr. Ghadir.

In Qazvin province, since the coronavirus outbreak 8,683 Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized, 7,328 of whom have recovered, reported Manouchehr Habibi, deputy provincial governor for political, security and social affairs. As of September 2, 289 coronavirus patients were hospitalized across the province, an increase of 45 in just one day. “At the moment, 578 workers and employees of the provincial government have been infected with coronavirus,” he said.

In the 24 hours leading up to September 2, the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in critical condition reached 102, reported Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. The total number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Alborz province now stands at 412 of whom 59 were hospitalized on September 1, he said. In the past 24 hours, he reported, six Covid-19 patients have died.

Every day an average of 80 outpatients with coronavirus symptoms attend medical facilities in Gilan and the total number of hospitalizations in the province has reached 370, reported Abtin Heydarzadeh, vice president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences. He asked residents of Gilan who had been in contact with out-of-province travelers during recent religious holidays to quarantine themselves and seek medical attention if they detect any Covid-19 symptoms.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, 40 percent of workers in the province of Fars have lost their jobs, reported Nasser Mousavi, president of the Council of Fars Labor Representatives, who added that between 20 to 30 percent of workers in the province were experiencing bad financial problems and were having difficulty making ends meet. “Unfortunately,” he said, “rising prices after the coronavirus outbreak have put the workers under enormous pressure and, besides the difficulty in acquiring items for hygiene, they also have to deal with commuting problems. Unfortunately this year’s wages, as set by the government, cannot cope with living expenses.”

In her daily briefing for September 2, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari said that currently 14 provinces are in a red state of alert and 15 provinces are in an orange state.

- Red: Tehran, Mazandaran, Gilan, Qom, Isfahan, Razavi Khorasan, East Azerbaijan, Kerman, North Khorasan, Semnan, Yazd, Zanjan and Qazvin

- Orange: West Azerbaijan, Alborz, Fars, Lorestan, Hormozgan, Ardebil, Bushehr, Kermanshah, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer Ahmad, South Khorasan, Markazi, Ilam, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Golestan and Khuzestan

Dr. Lari also announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:

- New confirmed coronavirus cases: 1,858

- New hospitalizations: 1,136

- Total cases since the outbreak: 378,858

- Total coronavirus tests conducted in Iran: 3,281,961

- Total recovered from coronavirus: 326,801

- New fatalities: 125

- Total death toll since the outbreak: 21,797


This is part of IranWire's coronavirus chronology. Read the full chronology



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