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The Coronavirus Through The Eyes Of 5 Iranian Photographers

Patients wait in their car instead of waiting in the hospital in Guilan, Iran.
Patients wait in their car instead of waiting in the hospital in Guilan, Iran.

With more than 20,000 reported cases as of Saturday afternoon, Iran has become one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has affected Iranian leadership, and data show the spread is far worse than reported. As the crisis worsens, NPR talked with a group of independent documentary photographers about their experiences on the ground. Some took to the streets to cover daily life, some covered the response from private and public hospitals as staff deal with the pandemic, and some, as they socially distance themselves, take a more personal approach to storytelling.

Here are their stories.

Khashayar Javanmardi
Guilan

Coronavirus widened its sinister shadow on the world's sky, and we don't know when this phenomenon will finish. I see my city (Guilan) as a center of the virus in Iran. People are not going out on the main streets anymore, and most of [the people] are now covering their faces with face masks.

I can feel the sadness behind the masks.

Saadi Street is one of the chief ways to get to the main square of the city of Guilan. Iranians have a saying: "You can't throw a needle" to describe when places are overcrowded. Usually, at this time of year, you can't throw a needle on Saadi Street.
/ Khashayar Javanmardi
Saadi Street is one of the chief ways to get to the main square of the city of Guilan. Iranians have a saying: "You can't throw a needle" to describe when places are overcrowded. Usually, at this time of year, you can't throw a needle on Saadi Street.

Sara Medghalchi
Tehran

I decided to stay and work from home about four weeks ago.

As days passed by and the situation got worse, I thought I had to document this period of my life in a certain way. Photography has been always the best way to express myself, so I started taking pictures.

My idea was to show limitation, boredom and distance in my everyday life.

My 55mm fixed lens limits me and gives a great depth of field. I stay in and take pictures from outside the home through the windows and behind the curtains. I used the lens and called the series "From the other side with 55."

Sara Medghalchi documents her life in self-quarantine through a 55mm fixed lens.
/ Sara Medghalchi
Sara Medghalchi documents her life in self-quarantine through a 55mm fixed lens.

Marjan Yazdi
Yazd

I witnessed the enormous amount of effort and dedication all hospital employees put into providing care for the patients. And I'm not just talking about the health care professionals, but also the custodians, receptionists, ambulance drivers and other employees who contribute in such difficult situations and put their lives at risk.

Where I did this series is a private hospital. This hospital just like other hospitals of the region is experiencing shortage of necessary equipment, such as protective covers, shields, masks or other necessities because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Despite all that said, all hospital employees, no matter what their jobs, provide good care for the patients — which has been making up for a lot of these shortages.

A nurse puts on gloves to visit a patient who is thought to have the coronavirus. Because of the enormous number of patients in the hospitals, the tests for the coronavirus might take several days. So all health care professionals have to assume that patients with symptoms are positive.
/ Marjan Yazdi
A nurse puts on gloves to visit a patient who is thought to have the coronavirus. Because of the enormous number of patients in the hospitals, the tests for the coronavirus might take several days. So all health care professionals have to assume that patients with symptoms are positive.

Nurses review a patient's history in the intensive care unit, where those with severe respiratory symptoms receive special care.
/ Marjan Yazdi
Nurses review a patient's history in the intensive care unit, where those with severe respiratory symptoms receive special care.

Farshid Tighehsaz

Tabriz

The coronavirus already changed my relationship with my surroundings. There is a sense of fear and doubt about being in contact with things and people. I do clean my camera and my hands several times a day. Even this situation changed my relationship with my camera. I miss shaking hands with my friends.

A car is abandoned on the side of the road in Tabriz city a few days after the official announcement of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran late last month.
/ Farshid Tighehsaz
A car is abandoned on the side of the road in Tabriz city a few days after the official announcement of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran late last month.

After the coronavirus pandemic was officially announced in Iran, 32-year-old Amin, who lives alone, began to self-quarantine.
/ Farshid Tighehsaz
After the coronavirus pandemic was officially announced in Iran, 32-year-old Amin, who lives alone, began to self-quarantine.

Kaveh Rostamkhani
Tehran

I wish there would be a better understanding among people in charge of public relations at various institutions about the importance of professional visual journalism as in contrast with their own produced material. Professional and independent journalistic work on the issue helps people's need for information to be satiated through reliable, quality sources which they trust.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wearing masks that cover their mouths, but not their noses, two young women walk through Tehran's Valiasr street after shopping. Under normal circumstances, the Valiasr promenade, famous for its medium budget boutiques, would be packed.
/ Kaveh Rostamkhani
Wearing masks that cover their mouths, but not their noses, two young women walk through Tehran's Valiasr street after shopping. Under normal circumstances, the Valiasr promenade, famous for its medium budget boutiques, would be packed.

Ahead of the Iranian new year, Tehran's Grand Bazaar is relatively empty as costumers stay away amid fears of being infected with the coronavirus. Others take precautions by wearing gloves and masks.
/ Kaveh Rostamkhani
Ahead of the Iranian new year, Tehran's Grand Bazaar is relatively empty as costumers stay away amid fears of being infected with the coronavirus. Others take precautions by wearing gloves and masks.