An Iranian student of journalism says Instagram has closed his account because he published a post that expressed hope about his compatriots’ efforts efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Meysam Saeedi, a student of journalism at the University of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), made the announcement in a Persian post on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
Saeedi, who was admitted to hospital himself for a coronavirus infection, had published a picture of himself, medical staffers, and other coronavirus patients at a hospital ward making victory signs and looking strong with hope.
“Instagram closed my account for no reason!” Saeedi wrote. “No [mention of] Haj Qassem or anything else! They only seek to stifle hope in the Iranian nation! But we will combat the #coronavirus with hope and will prevail.”
Saeedi was referring to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who was assassinated on the direct order of US President Donald Trump in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad early last month.
After the assassination, Instagram either deleted the accounts of many Iranians who had been using the social networking service to communicate their devastation at the tragedy, or eliminated relevant content posted by them.
Even before the US’s targeted killing of Soleimani, the American photo- and video-sharing platform had blocked the pages associated with the Quds Force’s popular commander after Washington’s blacklisting of the elite military force.
Spokesman of the Iranian Health Ministry Kianoush Jahanpour said on Thursday that the number of coronavirus infected people has increased to 245, adding that 26 patients have died so far.
He had said on Tuesday that over 700,000 sanitation packs, including equipment to prevent coronavirus-infection have been transferred to Qom province, the first place where the COVID 19-infection was diagnosed, and are being distributed among people.
As a preventive measure, Iranian authorities have ordered a week-long closure of educational and cultural institutions across over 10 provinces as of Thursday.
These provinces include Qom, Markazi, Gilan, Ardabil, Kermanshah, Qazvin, Zanjan, Mazandaran, Golestan, Hamadan, Alborz, Semnan, Kordestan and the capital, Tehran.
Spokesman for Tehran’s Department of Education Masoud Saqafi said the decision was made to “prepare schools” which have to be disinfected and sanitized.
Tehran’s Mayor Pirouz Hanachi said Sunday that all the city’s public places, including the metro trains and buses, are being disinfected every night as part of attempts to contain the spread of the virus.
Head of Food and Drug Administration Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz also said that pharmacies will no longer be allowed to sell protective masks and that masks will be distributed among the population via government-run centers free of charge, with the priority given to virus-hit provinces.
Iran’s Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Mansour Qolami called on all university deans to make every effort to maintain a calm atmosphere and adopt effective measures to prevent the virus from spreading.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus has risen to over 3,000 worldwide, with the vast majority of those in mainland China. The total number of global cases stands at over 81,000.
South Korea now has more than 1,000 coronavirus cases nationwide. Europe’s biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 12 people have died and there are over 400 infections, with restrictions imposed on some municipalities.
The coronavirus can cause various illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as pneumonia. Common signs of the infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and other breathing difficulties.