30 boxes of donated medical supplies sent to Tehran’s hospitals delivered on the way from Shanghai (Photo: Courtesy of Li Hong)
Chinese enterprises and individuals in Iran donated medical supplies to help the country fight the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, in addition to China’s official expert team and batches of medical aid, as both the Iranians and Chinese living in Iran struggle to deal with the epidemic, which has been worsened by a shortage of medical supplies partly due to US sanctions on Iran.
Some Chinese in Iran have raised donations on their social media for medical supplies from China, including goggles, masks, protective outfits and testing reagents, to help Iranians fight against the deadly virus. The aids departing from Shanghai have arrived in Iran by air, to be delivered to the Iranian Health Ministry and three hospitals in Tehran.
Iran has 1,501 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, with 66 deaths – the highest outside China.
On the boxes of the medical aids donated to the hospital, Persian-language poetry verses were written to deliver messages of support from 85 Chinese donors.
“We learned from Iranian friends working in local hospitals what is most needed is protective outfits, so the first shipment of our medical aid included 900 sets of protective clothes, sent from Shanghai, where a Chinese manufacturer sold some at a very low price and also gave the rest for free as part of the package,” Li Hong, manager of a Iran-based local tour agency “Iran Good,” told the Global Times. She raised the donation with Chinese editor Shen Juan, from Shanghai-based media portal newrank.com.
Li said she felt heartbroken after hearing of a 25-year-old Iranian nurse who died from the coronavirus. She then learned that medical workers in many hospitals in Iran were treating suspected COVID-19 patients without any professional decontamination clothes but only thin ordinary medical cloths. The situation evoked what happened to medical workers in Wuhan – her hometown – in the early days of the epidemic, she said.
“We have assembled nearly a hundred donors and volunteers in both Iran and China in the hope of repaying Iran for its assistance to China in the early stages of our outbreak,” Li told the Global Times. “And the response was very positive and very quick. Many of them are tourists who had traveled to Iran, and they were privately collecting medical supplies.”
Helping the Iranians is also helping ourselves, said some local Chinese married to Iranians.
“Face masks are almost unavailable in pharmacies in Iran,” a Chinese manager of an Iran-based local service company, who distributed more than 30,000 masks for free to some language schools and Chinese in Iran, told the Global Times on Monday.
Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Iran have become one of the top topics across China’s Sina Weibo over recent days.
Many Chinese netizens criticized the US sanctions on Iran’s cross-border logistics trade and financial settlement system, which have prevented Iran from officially importing medical supplies from other countries.
People living in Iran told the Global Times that the situation has not improved, and the pressure has not abated even though the US announced a sanctions waiver on Thursday to allow humanitarian aid to Iran.
A number of other Chinese companies have also been making donations to Iran, the Global Times has learned..
In contrast, the Chinese Embassy in Iran and some Chinese companies operating there have donated 250,000 face masks and 5,000 nucleic acid testing kits to Iran’s public health, medical, and education authorities. The move was followed by the Chinese government sending batches of medical aid. The medical aid sent from China last week contained novel coronavirus test kits, oxygen machines, disinfection powder, and electronic thermometers.
The Chinese Red Cross Society volunteer group of five health experts also arrived in Tehran on Saturday with medical supplies.
The Embassy of Iran in China on its Weibo account expressed their gratitude for Chinese people’s sincere help at this difficult time.