A 22-year-old Iranian woman who fled China with her mother is now planning to head back to China after Iran became the world’s third most infected place with 15,000 cases and over 850 dead.
Fatemeh Pourani, an Iranian who was born in Beijing, speaks Chinese fluently and said that she feels Chinese inside after being raised in the bustling capital city.
Her Iranian parents decided to stay in the Chinese capital after they graduated from Peking University and she said she feels that both her “hometowns have been attacked by COVID-19”.
Fatemeh obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration at China’s Beihang University and is currently studying for her graduate degree.
On 3rd February, Fatemeh travelled with her mother to the Iranian capital Tehran while the virus was mainly spreading around China.
However, she was surprised to see how quickly COVID-19 had affected Iran so soon after China.
When asked about the differences in how the people are coping, Fatemeh said that they continue working in Tehran so there is not a noticeable difference when out and about.
She added: “I think Iranian people are too calm. They do not scramble for toilet paper and food in supermarkets like European or other districts residents, which is rational, but they refuse to wear face masks. I cannot agree with that.”
Fatemeh said that only people who are sick should wear face masks, according to Iranian customs, as it symbolises that they have been infected.
She commented: “Although supermarkets and stores do not force people to wear masks when they go shopping, they give gloves to every customer so they may avoid the virus that may be on the goods.”
Also, the government has announced that tourist companies such as airlines and hotels must be temporarily closed down.
At the end of February, China sent a team of medical experts to Iran to help them deal with the outbreak and Fatemeh believes their influence has been huge in Tehran.
She said: “Iran’s medical facilities are outdated and some advanced equipment has been imported from China.
“Chinese medical experts have brought both advanced medical equipment and experience, telling us to disinfect everything and reduce travel. They have encouraged local people to improve common sense about epidemic prevention.”
“Basketball courts have been turned into makeshift hospitals, imitating those in Wuhan.”
Fatemeh revealed that she plans to return to China in April if the situation has become more stable by then and flights are available.
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