July 16 (Reuters) – Hospitals in Iran face acute shortages of medical personnel and beds as the country tackles a powerful second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior official of Tehran’s anti-coronavirus task force said on Thursday.
Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, began relaxing its lockdown in mid-April.
But a second wave of infections emerged in early June and has proven much more serious than the first one, said Reza Jalili-Khoshnood, who is himself infected, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
Iran recorded 13,608 related deaths as of Thursday, including 198 in the previous 24 hours, according to Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari speaking on state TV.
Jalili-Khoshnood was quoted as saying that at one hospital – Tehran’s Shohada, where he is hospitalized – 172 medical staff have been infected themselves or are caring for infected family members. He said he there were also shortages of beds including of intensive care beds.
His comments contrast with President Hassan Rouhani’s regular assurances that Iran has sufficient supplies of medical personnel and facilities.
Sadat Lari told state television that the total number of diagnosed cases in the country had reached 267,061, up by 2,500 in the last 24 hours.
While struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19, Iranian authorities are concerned that tougher measures against it could wreck an economy already reeling under U.S. sanctions.
(London editing desk)