Mar 31, 2020 15:12 UTC
  • Tehran, Rome mayors exchange virus fight experience

The mayors of Tehran and Rome, Pirouz Hanachi and Virginia Raggi, have exchanged their respective municipalities’ experiences in confronting the new coronavirus outbreak.

The two spoke via Skype in the presence of the Italian Ambassador to Tehran, Giuseppe Perrone, ISNA reported on Tuesday.

The two conceded that the pandemic has come to trouble the entire international community alike, with Hanachi saying, “We are all going through tough days. The coronavirus crisis showed that the world is not limited to geographical boundaries.”

Raggi agreed, saying, “I am glad that we all share the same cause [of battling the virus]…we are all in the same boat.”

The new coronavirus initially emerged in China late last year and is now spreading across the globe. Worldwide, there have been more than 800,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 39,500 deaths.

The outbreak has taken 2,898 lives in Iran. Italy was the first country to overtake China concerning the number of human losses, although, it currently stands second after the United States, with 11,591 fatalities.

The Health Ministry set up a website that has so far been used by more than 58 million Iranian citizens to report their health status, Hanachi said, noting that those citing virus-related symptoms were provided with relevant directives or hospitalized.

In a rare development, the country also shut down its religious centers, including highly-frequented shrines, to block the spread, the Tehran mayor said.

‘Sanctions virus’

The Tehran mayor said the country was attacked by the novel virus at a time when it was already facing another virus manifesting itself in the form of the United States’ sanctions.

“The sanctions were probably one of the reasons that delayed our identification of the virus in Iran,” he noted, adding that at the time when the coronavirus emerged, the country was suffering from a shortage of diagnostic kits and laboratories. However, it has now enhanced the number of such laboratories to as many as 50, the mayor said.

Tehran, for its part, tried to break the chain of the spread and promote social distancing by preventing unnecessary citywide and interurban trips, setting up extra online services, disinfecting urban roads and homeless shelters as well as public transportation stations and vehicles on a daily basis, Hanachi said.

The country also created more intensive care unit beds, including 350 extra ones at one hospital in the capital, he remarked.

The Tehran mayor hoped that the Iranian and Italian capitals would come round to signing an agreement that entitles them as each other’s “sister cities” once the overall situation improves.

Raggi described how Italy came to face the virus in its northern part, with the city of Brescia reporting its first case, where the army had to be called in to collect the bodies of the victims.

The country then began shutting down its beaches, parks and other places hosting large concentrations of people, and preventing the public from going outside other than for providing for their daily needs, Raggi said. Italy has likewise enhanced its online services, and even provided personal computers to households, she added.

Those testing positive have been isolated at their homes, and are provided with their requirements by the government, while others reporting acute respiratory problems have been hospitalized, Raggi noted.

The Italian capital is also indulging in disinfecting routines, encouraging limited use of public transportation services, and providing psychological counseling for people to better cope with the lockdown, the Italian mayor said.

The Italian ambassador, meanwhile, praised the Iranian health apparatus’ performance in the face of the outbreak. “It is true that Tehran is one of the biggest cities to be affected by the coronavirus, but we got to closely witness the country’s deployment of an efficient and effective health system [amid the situation],” he said.

As a case in point, Ambassador Perrone said the Iranian health service successfully diagnosed one infection case inside the Italian Embassy.