Iran’s Coronavirus Outbreak Sets New Records, but Is Still Underreported

Written by
Mahmoud Hakamian
Coronavirus outbreak in Iran
Iran continues to set new records for single-day death totals from the novel coronavirus outbreak. The regime’s Health Ministry while announcing the regime’s engineered statistics, acknowledged on Tuesday that 200 people had died over the previous 24 hours. This the highest death toll announced by the regime. Meanwhile, the Iranian Resistance announced on Tuesday that over 66,900 people have lost their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With this latest statistic, Iran continues an upward trend that has been ongoing since early May, following the regime’s criminal decision to send people back to work.

The implications of the new record are potentially even worse than they appear on the surface. While the regime’s statistics are engineered and meant to downplay the crisis, the regime’s official statistics generally reflect the country’s actual overall trends. Since very early in the outbreak, independent estimates have been reported to the international community from the Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). These suggest that the actual impact of Iran’s Covid-19 crisis is something like six times worse than what has been officially recorded.

The one-day increase of 200 supposedly brought Iran’s overall death toll to 11,931. But based on accumulated reports from across each of the country’s 31 provinces, the MEK has determined that the actual death toll was more than 66,900 at the start of this week. The democratic opposition group has also taken the firm position that such figures stem from the compounded effects of Tehran’s mismanagement of the crisis. Early failures to address the problem led to rapid spread among the civilian population, but also caused sickness and death among Iranian healthcare workers, leaving the country ill-prepared to address the crisis as it grew worse.

As just one example of this phenomenon, a medical sciences university in Zanjan Province recently reported that 100 nurses had contracted the coronavirus. The school’s deputy dean observed that while the total number of patients is increasing on a daily basis, the facility is also facing “a shortage of human resources in the sanitation and treatment sector as well as a shortage of hospital equipment.”

 

The regime tries to blame this latter phenomenon, in particular, and the whole crisis generally, on sanctions that have been imposed over the past two years by the United States. But this is just a bogus claim. The early distribution of vital equipment was undertaken to benefit regime authorities and their close affiliates, rather than to safeguard public health. Most Iranian hospitals lost their personal protective equipment to black market sales conducted by the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commercial entities.

At the same time, much of Iran’s population remained in the dark about the extent to which these resources were needed, until long after the outbreak had overwhelmed the healthcare system’s ability to manage it. Tehran made no public statements on the arrival of coronavirus in Iran until February 19. But documents were later released by the MEK which proved that the regime’s authorities had been aware of the COVID-19 patients being admitted to Iranian hospitals since at least the last week of January.

Despite the growing number of death and infections across Iran, the regime’s disinformation remains the order of the day, even though the regime cannot hope to get away with the outright denials that characterized roughly the first month of the outbreak. As a result, it appears as though Iranians are generally aware of the fact that the situation in their country is getting worse due to the regime’s mismanagement. Pretty much the same thing can be said about the international community.

In this regard, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), reiterated that the accelerating growth of coronavirus cases across the country, to which regime officials are inevitably confessing, is the result of the corrupt and criminal policies of regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei and regime president Hassan Rouhani. She said: “Instead of providing the needs of the workers, regime leaders are sending these hardworking people to crowded and contaminated environments without the least preventive and protective equipment. At the same time, they are blaming the people for not abiding by hygienic protocols. This is the regime’s strategy of mass killing to protect itself from another uprising.”

Sadly, major media outlets tend to report on the Iranian situation by simply repeating the regimes official estimates for the infection rate and death toll. Few even acknowledge that there are alternate estimates available, and still fewer are willing to name the PMOI or the NCRI, as sources of such information.

It’s not clear whether these omissions are the product of ignorance or political calculation, but it is clear that they are having an adverse impact on Iran’s prospects for getting out of this crisis before it sets a series of even more alarming records. Fortunately, there is a simple remedy for the deficiencies in current reporting. On July 17, the NCRI will be live-streaming its “Free Iran Global Summit,” and the coalition is sure to use the event as an opportunity to share the entirety of its findings regarding Covid-19’s impact on Iran, and the regime’s contributions to that impact.

Major news outlets should look to that event for information that may have been missing from their reporting over the course of the pandemic. And policymakers should use the occasion to examine their own responsibility for standing with the Iranian people and their Resistance to overthrow the Iranian regime, which is the source to all crises in Iran.

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