TEHRAN: In coronavirus-hit Iran, healthcare workers are not just treating patients – doctors and nurses are also lifting spirits with light-hearted dance performances that have spread massively on social media.
In a series of short video clips, medical staff dressed in surgical masks and protective medical clothing can be seen dancing in symbolic defiance of the outbreak that has claimed more than 100 lives in the country.
Iranians have widely shared the videos apparently shot in hospital wards and operating theatres, the dancers' identities disguised by hospital scrubs and face covers as they wiggle and shake to Iranian pop and traditional tunes.
Multiple clips can be found on Twitter marked in English as "coronavirus iran dancing", although AFP could not verify the authenticity of the individual videos.
Iran's authorities so far seem to be tolerating the "dance challenge" craze, and some videos have garnered around 100,000 views on Twitter, Instagram and other social media.
This is even though dancing between men and women is banned in the Islamic republic, except for married couples who dance in private.
Not everyone is amused by the clips and some Twitter users have denounced them as "sin".
Reformist activist Azar Mansouri on the other hand wrote online that "no words can express our gratitude for their efforts.
"They care for the sick and at the same time keep up the morale of their countrymen and their own families."
Another Twitter user joked that "the only places the vice squad doesn't dare to go are hospitals with coronavirus patients".
The virus has been a blow to the morale of the people of Iran, one of the worst-hit countries after China.
Many people remain locked in their homes and Iranians feel increasingly isolated after several airlines cancelled international flights.
Iran's schools and universities have been shut until early April, the health minister said Thursday, confirming more than 3,500 infections nationwide.
A few days ago, the death of a young nurse, Narjes Khanalizadeh, who caught the virus through contact with patients, deeply moved the country.
Iranian photojournalist Peyman Yazdani praised the courage of the healthcare workers, tweeting that "they dance face to face with death". – AFP