With over 20,000 confirmed cases and nearly 1,600 deaths, Iran is one of the worst COVID-19 affected nations in the world. The colossal rate of new infections and casualties has forced the government to resort to drastic measures including the temporary release of thousands of prisoners. However, a video doing the rounds on social media shows an Iranian cleric being oblivious to the safety protocols and measures put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.
In a video posted by Masih Alinejad, an Iranian Journalist, on her Twitter account, the cleric can be seen walking into a ward with COVID-19 patients — without any protective gear — and making them smell a liquid that he says is from the Prophet himself, to help them recover.
'From the prophet'
The cleric, without any mandatory protection including a mask, is seen approaching an elderly patient. He proceeds to hold a small bottle of liquid to the man's nose and asks him to smell it. He is heard saying: "Smell it. It's from the Prophet."
If that was not enough, he moves on to another older patient. After enquiring about his condition and progress, he repeats the same exercise. Before leaving he is seen telling the patient: "Are you feeling better? I hope you get better."
No regard for safety protocols
While the religious leader appears to be in good health, he not only exposed himself to the risk of contracting the fatal infection but also others who may come in contact with him. A portion of the aptly captioned tweet read: "After exposing himself to the virus, he walks out of the hospital. How many will he infect?"
Other Twitter users condemned the act seen as reckless at a time when the nation faces mounting challenges such as lack of beds to accommodate COVID-19 patients. A user wrote: "How on earth is he allowed to access the patients inside the ward?"
Another user tweeted: "Sad thing is he could be re-infecting those on the road to recovery in the hospital by sharing the lip balm or whatever with multiple people that are in various states of infection. MDs should stop this immediately. Yes, bigger picture infecting outside hospital is concerning too."
Grim situation in Iran
The Middle Eastern nation reported 123 deaths on Saturday, bringing the official toll to 1,556. With 20,610 confirmed cases, it is the worst-hit Asian country after China. Despite claims that the official numbers do not reflect the real extent of the infection, Iran has maintained that the numbers are accurate.
Other than regular Iranian citizens, the coronavirus infection has ravaged members of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's administration as well. Earlier this week, it was announced that Grand Ayatollah Hashem Bathaie-Golpayenagi, a member of the country's "Assembly of Experts", had died due to the infection. Seyyed Mohammad Mirmohammadi, an adviser to the Supreme Leader; Iranian lawmaker; Fatemeh Rahbar; and Hossein Sheikholeslam, former ambassador to Syria are some of Iran's other top officials who have been felled by the lethal virus.