Iran: Regime Responds to Nurses’ Protest with Violence, Arrests as Coronavirus Death Toll Climbs Past 65,200

Nurses’ Protest
Regime Responds to Nurses’ Protest with Violence
Nurses’ Protest

By Jennifer Jones-Kelley: According to a Friday statement from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), more than 65,200 people in 342 cities in all 31 provinces in Iran have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

The regime confirmed 2,566 new cases and 154 new deaths on Friday. The official figures are a considerable undercount of the true numbers.

Staff Shortages

The coronavirus crisis in Iran has been exacerbated by the regime’s failure to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. The MEK previously reported on this shortsighted decision by regime officials, which has led to high numbers of infection among healthcare workers. This, in turn, has caused staff shortages just as the number of cases across the country has surged. Nurses who protested this week were beaten and arrested. 

In a July 2 report by the state-run ISNA, the Secretary of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce (NCTT) was quoted as saying, “Given the coronavirus spread, we are facing a lack of nurses and general fatigue among them. Several of our physicians have contracted the virus and are currently quarantined. The number of incoming patients is higher than those being discharged. If this trend continues for several days, we will certainly have zero hospital capacity soon.” 

Minoo Mohraz, a member of the NCCT, underlined this point in comments to ISNA on Friday. She said, “The hospitals are crowded again, and the wards and beds assigned to Coronavirus patients are occupied… The medical staff has been tired during past months, and the disease has intensified again, causing them extreme exhaustion. The educated and experienced staff cannot be easily replaced either.”

Deadly Consequences

Healthcare worker shortages and exhaustion have deadly consequences for both patients and staff. In a July 2 article in the state-run Hamshahri daily, the Faculty Head of the University of Medical Sciences of Sirjan, Kerman Province, explained the problem. “The increase in work-load and fatigue on the part of colleagues, physicians, and nurses, because of the increased infection spread has led to degrading quality of medical care which has, in turn, contributed to the personnel’s infection and loss of system efficiency.”

Protests

In addition to the lack of PPE, exhaustion, hazardous working conditions, and staff shortages, healthcare workers are subjected to poor treatment from the regime. While frontline workers across the world are greeted as heroes, healthcare workers in Iran are denied insurance, wages, and are subject to arrest for providing vital public health information. 

One example of the regime’s shortsighted and cruel treatment of the Iranian people is the practice of forcing nurses to sign 89-day contracts. These contracts allow employers to deny health insurance or unemployment benefits to nurses, who are at high risk of needing both. Moreover, many nurses have waited months for their wages and overtime after risking their lives. 

Nurses in Mashhad protested these policies this week and were brutally attacked by regime security forces, who used batons and tasers to break up the peaceful protest. Several of the essential workers were arrested.

Statement from Maryam Rajavi

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), saluted the protesters and praised all healthcare workers who risk their own lives and those of their families to treat the sick. She said that the regime had spent four decades plundering the Iranian people’s wealth on terrorism, warmongering, and nuclear and missile programs, thus destroying the country’s infrastructure.

While Iran has skilled and selfless doctors and nurses, the regime has left the people defenseless to combat the virus. She added that the only way to end poverty, corruption, unemployment, and disease is to overthrow the clerical regime and bring democracy to Iran.