Healthcare workers in Iran are struggling against the novel coronavirus as the country has seen a rising trend in infections and deaths in October.

A total of 164 Iranian medical personnel have died due to COVID-19, Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said in a statement on Aug.22.

Since late August, a large number of health workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, while many others lost their lives due to the pandemic.

In Iran, especially in the capital Tehran, hospitals allocated to COVID-19 patients have reached their maximum capacity. Therefore, newly diagnosed patients are treated at their homes.

Footage aired by Anadolu Agency showed COVID-19 patients receiving treatment at the Hazrat Rasul Akram Hospital in Tehran and healthcare professionals striving for their recovery. The footage showed healthcare staff using overalls, aprons, masks and visors as protective measures against the virus.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Leyla Behmeni, a head nurse at the hospital, called on the Iranian people to follow health rules and avoid travel.

“We have been fighting this disease for months in Iran. Medical staff are very tired,” Behmeni said. “We can fight this disease if we follow the rules. People can help us by following healthcare protocols”, she warned.

Underlining that nearly 140 COVID-19 patients are being treated at the hospital, Behmeni said: “There are no empty beds left. New patients immediately replace those who recover”.

Death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 31,000 in Iran. The country reported a total of 539,670 infections so far.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said Tuesday that 30 of Iran’s 31 provinces are currently “red zones” with high risk of coronavirus transmission.

Lari said that the authorities must take strict measures throughout the country for three weeks in order to control the rapid spread of the pandemic.

Masoud Mardani, a member of the Iranian coronavirus science council, however, said that Iran’s real virus figures were higher than announced by the Iranian authorities.

The real number of fatalities are more than twofold the official ones, Mardani said.

Iran is struggling to contain the pandemic since February, when the first cases were confirmed in the city of Qom.

Restrictions have been reimposed in Tehran, Qom, Qazvin, and Alborz provinces as the country has seen a significant surge in new infections and fatalities in recent weeks.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz from Ankara

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