Iran says still in first wave of virus outbreak

Iran reported its first two COVID-19 cases on February 19 in the holy city of Qom. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Iran says still in first wave of virus outbreak

  • Official figures have shown an upward trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May
  • Iran closed schools, canceled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government gradually lifted restrictions from April

TEHRAN: Iran’s coronavirus epidemic is still in its first wave, the health ministry said Tuesday, a day after reporting the highest single-day death toll since the country’s outbreak began in February.
“The coronavirus is currently peaking in border provinces or cities which did not experience a peak in the first months of the outbreak,” said ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.
“Therefore, we’re still witnessing the first wave in the country,” she said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
According to Lari, Iran would only have a second wave if there was another rise in cases in provinces that “had a significant peak” when the first cases were declared.
Iran reported its first two COVID-19 cases on February 19 in the holy city of Qom.
The central province of the same name quickly became one of the worst-hit, along with the northern province of Gilan, a popular tourist resort.
Official figures have shown an upward trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections.
Iran recorded 162 coronavirus deaths on Monday, its highest figure for a single day, raising the total to 10,670 out of more than 225,200 cases of infection.
Authorities have so far refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the pandemic’s spread and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas.
Iran closed schools, canceled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government gradually lifted restrictions from April to try to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.
The increasing virus caseload has seen some previously unscathed provinces classified as “red” — the highest level on Iran’s color-coded risk scale — with authorities allowing them to reimpose restrictive measures if required.
They include Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Bushehr, West and East Azerbaijan, and Khorasan Razavi, all located along Iran’s borders.


Baby George, born amid Beirut blast, is ‘light in the darkness’

Updated 16 min 32 sec ago

Baby George, born amid Beirut blast, is ‘light in the darkness’

  • "George is very special. He is the light in the darkness, a birth in wreckage," Edmond said
  • Seventeen people died in St. George hospital right after the blast and dozens were injured

BEIRUT: Stepping into the delivery room where his wife Emmanuelle was about to give birth, Edmond Khnaisser meant to capture their son's first moments on camera.
Instead, he recorded the instant the biggest blast in Lebanon's history sent whole windows crashing onto his 28 year-old wife's hospital bed.
"I saw death with my own eyes...I started feeling 'is it over?' I was looking around and at the ceiling, just waiting for it to fall on us," Emmanuelle said, recollecting the direct aftermath of the massive blast that injured 6000 and killed more than 170 people in Beirut on Aug. 4.
Brushing off blood and shattered glass, medical staff instinctively carried Emmanuelle into the corridor, fearing another explosion could follow.
About to faint and shaken to the core, Emmanuelle said she knew she had to focus on giving birth.
"He has to come to life and I have to be very strong," she told herself.

Hospital staff works using torches while a baby named George is delivered, as the blast wave hit the hospital in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020 in this picture obtained from social media. (Reuters)


Right after the blast, Stephanie Yacoub, chief resident of obstetrics and gynecology at St. George Hospital University Medical Center, had run out the room to help an injured nurse.
But it was too late and the nurse died. Yacoub hurried back to Emmanuelle straight away to help her give birth, along with Professor Elie Anastasiades and a team of medics.
"There was no electricity and the sun was starting to set, so we knew we had to get this done as soon as possible. And with the use of people's phone lights, he came into the world," she told Reuters a week after the blast.
Seventeen people died in St. George hospital right after the blast and dozens were injured, including Edmond Khnaisser’s mother, who suffered six broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Running back and forth between his wife and his mother, Khnaisser said he had one objective in mind, to get his new son George to safety.
As they got into strangers’ cars and out of the blast’s perimeter, the extent of the destruction started to sink in.
They eventually made it to a hospital right outside of the capital where George was finally bathed and cleaned.
"George is very special. He is the light in the darkness, a birth in wreckage," Edmond said, showing pictures of his son on the Instagram page he created for the boy they now call "miracle" baby George.