New Report: The Coronavirus Crisis in Iran. Causes of Its Outbreak and Spread: Cover-Up, Deception, Incompetence, and Corruption.
Written by Staff Writer
Causes of its outbreak and spread: Regime cover-up, deception, incompetence, theft, and corruption
Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected in China and recorded in the local office of the World Health Organization that country on December 31, 2019. It led to serious international concern over its outbreak and spread. It appears that the virus has been relatively contained in China as a result of measures undertaken by the government. Now, clerical-controlled Iran has become the global epicentre of the virus.
At the time of writing, people in 74 cities in all 31 provinces in Iran have been infected with Coronavirus.
The scale of the virus spread and death rate in Iran is dramatically more extensive and catastrophic, to the extent that if not contained, hundreds of thousands of Iranians would be vulnerable to infection and death as a result of the regime’s incompetence, lack of sufficient resources to confront the virus and a corrupt ruling elite.
The crisis is, of course, not limited to Iran. No less than 15 other countries are dealing with the problem as a result of Iranians traveling to these countries.
Scope of Crisis in Iran is much bigger than the mullahs admit
Several indicators show that the real dimensions of the crisis are far greater than what the mullahs have admitted so far.
In Italy, the first two cases of Coronavirus infection were detected 21 days before the first death; in South Korea 29 days; and in Hong Kong 13 days. But in Iran, the very first report on the epidemic was about the death of two infected people, without any report whatsoever on the detection of the virus.
Considering that the period to detect visible signs of the illness is at least 27 days, and that according to sporadic unofficial reports the first death was witnessed in the city of Qom at least three days after the patient’s hospitalization and that the death was announced before test results, it is not surprising that the country’s healthcare and hygienic system had been taken totally off guard.
Despite the fact that the latest figures announced by the regime’s Ministry of Health before February 28 showed 245 infections, the World Health Organization announced that at the time at least 97 infected persons from Iran had entered 11 other countries. A number of those persons had visited Iranian cities where no Coronavirus infection had been reported.
According to official facts and figures, the death rate in Iran is not comparable to any other country in the world. Whereas in the worst cases of Chinese infection the rate of death in the 8 to 10 first days had been reported to be around 2% and in worst cases 5%, in Iran the percentage has been obviously much higher. For example, on February 27, nine days after the Coronavirus was detected in Iran for the first time, the death rate was around 12% and on February 28 around 9%. The rate dropped to 4% on March 4, and slightly above 3% on March 5, revealing the fact that Iranian official figures are absolutely unreliable, and that the extent of crisis was far greater than what the mullahs portrayed.
Qom- Behesht Masoumeh Cemetry
Qom- Behesht Masoumeh Cemetry
Dr. Massoud Mardani, a specialist in infectious diseases and member of the National Influenza Committee told the state-owned daily Entekhab on March 5: “The Coronavirus is circulating at great speed, as one contaminated person can infect four others, we estimate that 30 to 40% of Tehran’s population would be infected by the virus in two weeks.” The latest Tehran population count is 9.7 million.
Massoud Pezeshkian, first deputy speaker of the Parliament, and a former Health Minister said on March 3: ” …The (official) numbers given are not real, because there are a number of patients that show no symptoms. We find 95 people and two dies, then we say 2 have died out of a 100, whereas it may be that only 2% of 10,000 have died.”
Regime’s politically-motivated cover-up the main cause of Coronavirus spread
The main reason for the dramatic and rapid spread of Coronavirus in Iran is the Iranian regime’s cover-up. The clerical regime was informed of the outbreak in Iran two weeks prior to the February 11th anniversary of the establishment of the mullahs’ regime. In view of the numerous flights to China by Mahan airliner, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the probability of the virus spreading to Iran from China was certain. Owing to its strategic relations with China, however, not only did the regime refuse to cancel flights to that country, but a large number of Chinese citizens traveled to Iran following the virus outbreak in their own country. Despite the regime announcing that flights to China will be canceled, Mahan Air has continued its travels to and from China. The presence of hundreds of Chinese students involved in religious studies in the city of Qom gave impetus to the continuation of these flights.
Flying to China and from China to Iran by Mahan Airlines belonging to the IRGC
The French Daily Le Monde quoted a physician in Tehran as saying that in the final days of January, two people infected with coronavirus died. Despite this news, the mullahs insisted that there are no signs that the virus had made it into Iran. This cover-up and blatant lie upon direct order of Ali Khamenei were orchestrated to ensure the participation of a large number of people in the state-run annual march marking the advent of the clerical regime on February 11 as well as the parliamentary election sham scheduled for February 21. In an inadvertent confession, two days after the election, the regime’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, acknowledged this reality: “Some had recommended to delay the elections, and insisted to delay elections in Qom. But, I, as the official for the elections, refused to approve these recommendations.”
While the regime’s several-week-long cover-up and spreading of false and misleading information led to the spread of the virus across Iran and its infiltration into other countries from Iran, the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said on March 3: “This disease is not serious; we have seen more disastrous calamities than this one.” He said that this is a “fleeting event” and it is not an “extraordinary.” Khamenei added: “Our officials revealed information since day one with enthusiasm, honesty, and transparency, and they informed the people.
But some other countries where this illness is more intense and widespread are covering it up.” On March 2, the spokesman for Hassan Rouhani’s government, who is also a notorious torturer and IRGC member, Ali Rabii, claimed that the regime has had the most transparent approach to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ten days ago, Rouhani claimed that the virus problem would be over by Saturday, February 29. But, on March 4, after weeks of lying and cancellation of all foreign travels by state institutions, he said: “This disease has spread widely to almost all of our provinces … From day one, once we suspected the virus has entered the country, we immediately instructed the Ministry of Health to inform the public about the figures and the relevant information. We told them not to hide anything from the public.”
A member of the clerical regime’s parliament, Bahram Parsai, said: “The reality goes beyond the (official) statistics… and if the world does not rush to the aid of our selfless doctors and medical staff, we will all lose.”
Ressalat daily, affiliated with the Khamenei faction, wrote: “We can’t just give false assurances and deny a virus outbreak until February 19, (two days before regime’s election) and then suddenly start beating the drum about how dangerous Coronavirus is and the possibility of it spreading across the country only the day after.”
On March 2, a state-run daily’s editorial said: “What makes each of these crises more critical and more catastrophic is the loss of public trust.”
The situation is so dire that after a long delay, on Wednesday, March 4, the mullahs were forced to declare a state of emergency in the province of Khorasan Razavi, canceling Friday prayer congregations, all gatherings, and closing state institutions, schools and universities. Fearful of the virus spreading to other parts of the country, the mullahs’ religious sermons and even Khamenei’s sham religious classes have been canceled. International gatherings and exhibitions have also been canceled.
Minimizing human casualties
Since cover-ups and deception is in the regime’s DNA, the mullahs avoided giving statistics and real figures about the number of infected and dead. Ironically, during the press conference by Rouhani’s deputy health minister who was standing alongside the spokesman for Rouhani’s cabinet, Ali Rabii, regarding the Coronavirus, the deputy health minister was clearly suffering from the virus’ symptoms and was immediately hospitalized.
According to the latest state figures provided by the regime’s health ministry until March 5, the virus has killed at least 107 people among 3513 confirmed cases. But the actual figures are much higher.
Things are so bad in this respect that according to figures announced by the official News Agency, IRNA, until 11:30 pm local time on March 4, at least 126 people had lost their lives because of infection. The figure excluded those who died in Gilan, Mazandaran and Tehran provinces, which are the main centers for the epidemic in Iran. They were marked “non-specified” in IRNA’s table. IRNA cites Medical school statistics for the provinces as its source.
However, the real figures are staggeringly higher. According to the latest figures tallied by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) main opposition movement, based on information from its sources in hospitals across the country, as of March 5, the real death toll in 74 cities had exceeded 1,500.
Scores of messages, reports, and calls from parts of Iran indicated that the actual number was much higher in the entire country.
The number of victims in Qom has exceeded 400, and in Gilan, at least 154 have died. The extent of the catastrophe is so extensive that Parliament Deputy Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh admitted, “The pile of dead bodies in Qom and the helplessness of the people of Rasht are evidence of failures in notifying and alerting the people about the virus outbreak in a timely manner.” In Golestan Province, 70 people have reportedly died from the virus in recent days. In Kermanshah, a cemetery caretaker says, 85 corona victims, have been buried in the cemetery. The Ferdows Cemetery in Kermanshah is under the IRGC and Basij control and the bodies are buried at night.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) announced that in the period of March 4 to 5, at least 200 more people have lost their lives from Coronavirus in Tehran, Qom, Rasht, Mashhad, Kashan, Ramsar, Sorkhe-Hesar, Yazd, Zanjan, Gorgan, Gonbad, Urmia, Tabriz, Maragheh, Damavand, Dorcheh, Rudsar, and Qazvin.
#Coronavirus Deaths in 74 Cities Exceeded 1,500#MEK announced that over the past 24 hours, at least 200 more people have lost their lives from #Coronavirus in cities including Tehran, Qom, Rasht, Mashhad, Kashan, Ramsar,…https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/27506-corona-deaths-in-74-cities-exceeded-1-500 …#CoronaVirusOutbreak#FreeIran
Corona Deaths in 74 Cities Exceeded 1,500
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Other cities where people have died as a result of coronavirus include: Ardabil, Khorramdareh, Saqqez, Baneh, Azadshahr, Gonbad, Chaypareh, Urmia, Ilam, Samaleh, Salehshahr, Mahshahr, Ahvaz, Andimeshk, Sarbandar, Tabriz, Bonab, Saveh, Zarand, Qods, Najafabad, Homayounshahr, Kiashahr, Amlash, Siahkal, Yasuj, Malayer, Hamedan, Neyshabur, Kashmar, Eslamabad-e-Gharb, Nowshahr, Sorkheh Hesar, Semnan, Shahroud, Yazd, Buin Zahra, Takestan, and Bandar Abbas.
Nahid Khodakarami, head of the Tehran city council heath committee said on February 29: “About 10,000 to 15,000 people have been infected.”
On February 28, a medical expert at Beheshti University said: “At least 50,000 to 100,000 people have been infected. Of course, my own estimate is a lot higher than this.”
On March 2, Qassem Janbabai, the regime’s deputy health minister, admitted to the state-run Channel 2 TV station: “We have close to 12,000 people hospitalized during this period. … Less than 20 percent of the people infected visit hospitals and 80 percent have such minimal symptoms that they can be completely treated at home.” In other words, he admitted that at least 60,000 people across the country have been infected by the virus.
The regime’s Parliament Deputy from Rasht described the catastrophic situation in Gilan province and said that the official statistic of 40 deaths in Iran is akin to a sad joke, adding: “I want the press to cover the situation in Gilan more because the conditions are much worse than Qom and other parts of Iran.”
A specialist in infectious diseases who works for the regime’s army at the Hajar hospital in Tehran said: Currently, over 100,000 people have been infected. I say this with certainty that 1 on 10 people would test positive. This is a catastrophe that the government cannot deal with.
The criminal cover-up and dissemination of false and deceptive information by the regime have not only led to the widespread explosion of the disease in Iran, but it has also caused problems for many other countries. On March 4, the Washington Post wrote in its editorial: “Iran (regime’s) reaction to coronavirus has become a danger for the world.” The New York Times said on March 3: “But instead of receiving government help, overwhelmed doctors and nurses say they have been warned by security forces to keep quiet. … And some officials say … [confirming the scope of the catastrophe] will be viewed as a failure that enemies will exploit. … The authorities seem as worried about controlling information as they are about controlling the virus, according to telephone interviews and text messages with more than a half dozen Iranian medical workers.”
Preventing the dissemination of actual fatality figures
The clerical regime has made every effort to prevent the dissemination of the news regarding the real scope of the crisis in Iran and as such has made it a security issue.
In addition to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC is actively working to prevent the dissemination of the true news.
Based on specific information, key members of the Headquarters to Combat Coronavirus include officials from the MOIS, The Intelligence Organization of the IRGC and the Judiciary.
The Commanders of the IRGC Intelligence Organization in each province attend the Province’s Hygiene and Treatment Headquarters in order to prevent correct news from leaking.
The IRGC, IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, and the Ministry of Intelligence have been tasked to threaten the families of the victims to keep silent in a bid to cover-up the actual number of fatalities. The IRGC’s command center has ordered all IRGC divisions and headquarters of in provinces to be present at hospitals and medical and health centers to control reporting on the number of those infected or killed due to the virus. In many cities, cardiac arrest is specified in death certificates. Families are pressured not to disclose the cause of death.
This reality is even reflected in some of the state media reports.
On February 29, the state-run daily Ressalat wrote: “With regards to the number of infected nurses, we cannot release any figures. The statistics are completely security-related and cannot be revealed. Even the heads of hospitals might not know the number of Coronavirus victims. Even if a victim goes to the hospital, the statistics are not given to the hospital supervisor. There is a special private channel and no one but the health ministry officials are aware of the numbers.”
Nahid Khodakarami, head of the Health Commission of the Tehran City Council, said on March 1: “Yesterday, I said that in Tehran it is possible that 10,000 people have been infected with Coronavirus. The IRGC intelligence unit called me and complained. They asked why did you provide this number? I said, sir, how long are you going to cover this up? These numbers are being talked about in society and with me saying it, it calms the situation. Let’s be transparent with the people. We shouldn’t make this decease a security matter. You don’t need to call me and ask me why I divulge some figures. I merely provided some expert opinion. The intelligence official of the IRGC told me that I should refer the matter to the health ministry. I said that OK we should increase the pressure on the Health Ministry to be more transparent and to openly express themselves and tell people the facts, otherwise our reputation in the world would be eroded.”
The head of Yaftabad hospital in Tehran said on March 1: “Our primary problem in this crisis was that we did not transmit the right information to the people and we don’t have the right information. Treating everything as a political and security matter, we endanger people’s health. It’s always been this way.”
The regime has even threatened to imprison people who provide news about the actual scope of the crisis. Hassan Nowrouzi, the Speaker of the Judiciary Committee of the Parliament, said on February 26 that those who “disseminate fake news regarding Coronavirus” will be sentenced from one to three years of imprisonment and lashes.
Qom: The epicenter
Following the identification of Coronavirus cases in the city of Qom, the regime’s officials refused to quarantine the city or stop visits to the city’s holy shrines, which would have been the best approach to prevent the spread of the virus. The regime’s refusal to quarantine the city led to thousands of infections. At the same time, many more infected people returned to other cities in Iran and infected others.
Attached diagram shows the pattern in which Coronavirus spread across Iran from Qom
Video clip showing the critical situation in Qom’s mortuary that was widely posted in the social media on March 3
The head of a hospital in Tehran’s Yaftabad said on March 1, 2020: “If we had limited the travel of people in Qom since the epicenter of the illness is in Qom, the spread would not have been so extensive. You look at the map and you will see that it spread to neighboring provinces from Qom. … The (officials) say that they avoided quarantining Qom for economic reasons. This is while the damage that this virus causes is a thousand times more. If we consider economic calculations, the damage will be catastrophic. In fact, our mistake was that when we discovered that the contamination is in the city of Qom, we should have quarantined the people there and prevented its spread. If we had done so, the virus would not have spread. Dr. Abrazadeh (the deputy of Dr. Mohammad Reza Qadir, head of the Qoma medical sciences university) had instructed the closure of the shrine but a number of people refused to close the Masoumeh shrine citing religious reasons.”
Nahid Khodakarami, head of the Health Commission of the Tehran City Council, said on March 1: “Two weeks ago, I told Dr. Iraj Harirchi and even Dr. Nobakht (head of the parliament health committee) that Qom must be quarantined, but they did not listen. There must be restrictions placed on Qom. Now, the entire country has been infected. Even in a small city like Khansar, three people have tested positive for Coronavirus. All three had gone there from Qom. Yesterday, three people traveled from Qom to Tehran and all of them died. If we had not given priority to the concerns of the clerics, we would have been in a much better situation.”
A manager of the Group of Experts of Social Factors Impacting Health at the University of Beheshti said on February 28: “Almost all cases in the country have been caused by Qom. Therefore, our greatest mistake was that we did not control the source.”
Massoud Pezeshkian, March 3: “We should have quarantined Qom from day one. … This disease is not a joke, which is the way we are dealing with it. Currently, hospitals are overflowing and there is no room for more patients, and it will get worse by the day. The economy and everything will be ruined, it is no joke. What would have happened if they shut down the country for 15 days? (referring to the first outbreak in the city of Qom). If we had done so on the first day, it would not have spread to the entire country. ….”
Despite calls to quarantine the city of Qom, it was strongly opposed by those affiliated to Khamenei and did not allow the city’s holy shrine of Massumeh, which is one of the most respected sacred places in Iran, to be closed. Mohammad Saeedi, Khamenei’s representative in Qom, said on February 22 that the “enemy” intends to show that Qom is insecure and take revenge, but “it will never succeed.” The following day, Ali Akbar Hosseini-Nejad, Saidi’s advisor, said, the closure of the holy shrine would send a “bitter message” and “these kinds of decisions must be made by the regime.” Despite the heightening of the Coronavirus crisis across the country, Saidi, said on February 26, “we consider the holy shrine as a ‘House of cure’ and it must remain open and people must visit the shrine strong.”
Incompetence in dealing with the crisis
The regime has been utterly incompetent in controlling or stopping the spread of this disease. Many physicians do not have sanitizers or masks for their own use. This has led to infections among a significant number of doctors, nurses and medical workers in various cities. In turn, this has led to a shortage of medical staff, which means that those infected do not receive proper medical care.
A shortage of resources and medical equipment has worsened the regime’s inability to deal with the situation. For example, while there should be two nurses for every patient in urgent care, currently there is one nurse for every four beds, and they suffer from a lack of sufficient resources to treat the ill. In Tehran’s Yaftabad hospital, which suffers from a lack of sufficient medical resources, many of the infected people have been released. The hospital only has some means to provide rooms and beds for quarantines. They don’t even have test kits. One of the physicians working at this hospital has said that at least 20 have died in a day.
One of the physicians in Firouzgar hospital said on February 25 that four members of the science department of the hospital have tested positive for Coronavirus.
According to a confidential report, one of the senior officials in Golestan province said on March 4: “So far 46 people have died in the province. Since Sunday, February 28, the number of patients have been rising and some 100-130 people are hospitalized. For instance, we hospitalized 141 in our province. As days pass, I feel the situation is becoming more critical and respiratory cases are on the rise. One major problem is that there are almost no IC beds available in the entire province. The other major issue is protective masks for medical personnel known as L95 mask. This is a serious shortage we are facing every day. This ailment is rising every day in the province and it is going to become worse from tomorrow. We thought the wave will reverse from Saturday or Sunday but I noted a rise from Monday. Our patients are rising every day at an exponential rate.”
On February 29, the regime’s Parliament Deputy from the city of Rasht said that people are dying in villages, they are buried and there are no doctors. He added that there are many houses in Rasht with infected people quarantined in them. He also said that “all of my relatives are also at home and infected.”
A member of the IRGC in Tehran said on February 26: The Islamic Republic always exploits crises and blames perceived enemies of the people. In the end, despite damages and casualties, it refuses to accept any responsibility for the problems.
IRGC and the outbreak and spread of the virus in Iran
Many in Iran consider the IRGC as the source of the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran.
On February 26, one of the IRGC commanders in Tehran in a confidential report wrote that while there are disagreements about how the virus entered Iran, what is certain is that the IRGC is being blamed for it. This is because Mahan Air is a special IRGC service company that has continued its operations with China. Moreover, some media outlets have reported that the virus entered Iran through Chinese Islamic students in Qom. It has been said that over 700 Chinese religious students entered Qom with the support of the IRGC and are studying at the al-Mostafa Community.
The role of Mahan Air is rather unique. While it presents itself as a private company, in practice it is controlled by the IRGC. Mahan Air and a number of its directors have been placed on U.S. sanctions lists and as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SGDT)
In an October 2017 investigative report, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed that Mahan Air is an executive arm of the IRGC’s extraterritorial Qods Force and its main directors have been appointed by Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force who was eliminated by the U.S. in January 2020. The CEO of the company, Mohsen Arabnejad, who like Soleimani was born in Kerman, was under the command of Soleimani in the IRGC since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. He was appointed as the CEO of Mahan Air by Soleimani after the establishment of the company.
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)
While all countries were administering caution in their relations with China, #Iran’s Mahan Airways, run by the terrorist-designated IRGC, continued its flights to China without paying attention to the Iranian people’s health & life.#coronavirushttps://english.mojahedin.org/i/mahan-air-flights-china-coronavirus-outbreak-iran-20200302 …
IRGC’s Mahan Air is doing business with China at the cost of people’s lives | People’s Mojahedin…
Analysis by PMOI/MEK Iran, March 2, 2020—Soon after the news broke of the coronavirus outbreak in China, airlines from various countries stopped their flights to the East Asian country. While all…
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Mahan Air has regular flights to Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Since the identification of coronavirus and the threats in China, until the time of preparation of this report, Mahan Air has coordinated at least 55 flights to China. Indeed, even after the regime officially banned flights to China Mahan Air has continued its flights, including on March 5 to Shanghai.
Despite the regime’s efforts to justify limited flights to China by claiming that they carry humanitarian aid, investigations show that flights to China during this period have been by Mahan passenger aircraft rather than cargo planes. These flights have been from Tehran to multiple destinations in addition to China and none of them was a passenger plane.
While almost all airlines have stopped their flights to China or severely restricted, it appears that Mahan planes flying to China are also used for other destinations providing the grounds for wider dissemination of the virus.
Hoarding medical tools and equipment, the role of the IRGC and Setad Implementation of Imam’s Order (aka as Setad).
The buy and sell medical market is monopolized by the IRGC and economic powerhouses controlled by the office of Khamenei. When reports about the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran first emerged, the IRGC began hoarding and controlling the government sale and distribution of medical equipment to other countries. Out of the nearly 52 million masks that were bought, a portion was sent to China as a gift, some were sent to Iraq for the Popular Mobilization Front militias, and the rest were sold in the market at a much higher price.
Standard detection kits for the virus were allocated to regime officials at the Pasteur Institute and the Khomeini hospital, while non-standard kits that were domestically manufactured are being sold to average citizens ten times the regular price (700,000 Tomans as opposed to 70,000 Tomans).
On February 29, according to the IRGC-affiliated Fars news agency, the regime’s health minister, Saeed Namaki, said in a letter to Rouhani: “I predicted the probability of the coronavirus coming into the country in a letter to the country’s customs and requested that the export of masks be prohibited until further notice. I instructed my colleagues to purchase domestic products at a rational price and store them for the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, despite many follow-ups, a small number was purchase and the rest of the country’s products entered the black market. Unfortunately, after about 10 days, only a million masks were provided, and I do not know where the rest has been stored. My colleagues are forced to work on a daily basis to refer to various markets and play the role of middlemen to purchase these products at astronomical prices from smugglers. On what basis does this opportunistic and unreasonable network dare to stand up to the people and officials and simply declare that it can provide 200,000,000 masks in the span of 24 hours in this or that market at this or that price?”
According to analysts, he was referring to the SETAD (a financial conglomerate under the supervision of the supreme leader). This financial organization acts as Khamenei’s personal coffer. It is one of the largest economic powerhouses of Iran whose assets were estimated to be 95 billion dollars in 2013. It has muscled its way into the pharmaceutical business in Iran in recent years. SETAD is on the US sanctions list.
The head of the SETAD, Mohammad Mokhber, said on February 27, that it had signed a contract for the production of 50 million medical masks and the first batch would be distributed in Tehran soon. Later news reports indicated that the masks were imported, at the same time that health ministry officials announced that they did not need to import any masks.
The SETAD’s public relations director, Hojat Niki-Molki said on March 2 to the Jam-e Jam newspaper that the masks were purchased from a European country and that 17 million had entered the country on Sunday night and will be delivered to the health ministry.
A standard mask in the EU costs about 20 to 40 cents at retail outlets. Local Iranian news outlets reported that masks are selling for $1.5 to $2 US dollars in the market in Tehran.
Impact on the regime’s own officials
At least 23 members of the regime’s Parliament, i.e. 8 percent of Parliament deputies, have contracted coronavirus. Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, head of combating Coronavirus, advisor to the Judiciary Chief Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who was also the justice minister during Rouhani’s first term, chairman of the parliamentary security and foreign affairs committee Mojtaba Zolnour, and vice president Masoumeh Ebtekar, who was also a spokeswoman of the regime’s Followers of Imam students during the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover and hostage-taking, are among those who have been infected by the virus. A number of senior officials of the regime have died as a result, including the following: a member of the Expediency Council Seyyed Mohammad Mirmohammadi, former ambassador of the regime to the Vatican Hadi Khosroshahi, a newly appointed member of parliament Mohammad Ali Raemzanzadeh, member of the swimming and water polo federation Javad Karimi, head of the religious Mojtahedi seminary and member of the supreme council of religious seminaries of Tehran province mullah Habibi, former head of the Organization of Deeds and Properties Registration and advisor to judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, Ahmad Toyserkani, and Hossein Sheikh ol-Islam, a former Deputy Foreign Minister.
Due to a lack of quarantines and control over the source of the illness, Qom has become the center of the epidemic, leading to the infection and death of many of the regime’s own officials. The IRGC’s ideological-political unit has established an educational session for the IRGC’s commanders in Qom who have infected other provinces and the IRGC itself. IRGC member Ebrahim Alizadeh, who had gone to Qom for one week-long ideological classes, has been infected and is bedridden at home. In addition, other IRGC members who have returned from Qom are quarantined in their houses and will not go to work for at least two weeks. In Ardebil province, in one vehicle used by IRGC commanders who returned, five have been definitely infected and quarantined. One of the IRGC members fainted at the Ardebil airport due to coronavirus. Among other IRGC commanders, Brig. Gen. Farhang Mostaed Hesari, deputy commander of the IRGC in the province, and Jalil Babazadeh are quarantined.
Iran, the source of Coronavirus spread:
The current COVID-19 crisis in Iran is not limited to the Iranian people, and Iran has become the epicenter of the spread of the virus to other countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Oman, Bahrain, Georgia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.
On February 28, authorities of the Queensland state in Australia said that a 63-year-old woman, who had recently come Iran, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
In a similar development, according to the New Zealand authorities, the first person diagnosed with the Coronavirus had come from Iran.
The Iranian regime’s state-run media outlets also wrote on March 1: “Canadian officials said last week that seven of their citizens returning from Iran had been diagnosed with the Coronavirus.”
Coronavirus in Iranian prisons
Coronavirus is spreading in Greater Tehran’s Prison, Rajaii-Shahr (Gohardasht-Karaj), Karaj’s central prison, Qezel Hesar, Urmia, Sheiban and Kashan prisons. Because of the overcrowding, inmates sleep on the ground in corridors and even close to sanitary facilities.
#Iran: Regime’s Repressive Measures Expediting #Coronavirus Outbreak in Prisons, Endangering Thousands https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights/27491-iran-regime-s-repressive-measures-expediting-coronavirus-outbreak-in-prisons-endangering-thousands …#CoronaOutbreak #Covid_19 #FreeIran2020
Iran: Regime’s Repressive Measures Expediting Coronavirus Outbreak in Prisons, Endangering Thousands
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23:47 – 3 Mar 2020
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They are deprived of sanitary masks and even disinfectants. In some prisons including Qezel Hesar, even simple detergents or soap are not available. Some prisoners in Karaj’s central prison do not have cells and spend time in the prison yard. Lack of hygiene is aggravated because political and ordinary prisoners, including addicts, are kept together. This situation has accelerated the spread of the Coronavirus.
Greater Tehran Prison
The 5th Brigade of the Greater Tehran Prison is allocated to those arrested during November 2019. These are youth who protested fuel price hikes and poverty.
Several among them are already infected with coronavirus. As of Sunday evening, March 1, more than 40 inmates of the 5th Brigade were quarantined in hospital due to infection. Out of hostility towards the prisoners, the regime’s judiciary is still not agreeing to temporary leave, which endangers all prisoners with the possibility of infection.
Amir Hossein Moradi, 25, who was sentenced to death for taking part in the November 2019 uprising has contracted coronavirus in ward 2 of Fashfouyeh Prison in Tehran. The ward has not been disinfected and there are no medical equipment and products for the prisoners. Moradi was transferred to Khomeini hospital after contracting the virus but was returned to prison on Saturday. He has been taken to an unknown location. He also suffers from paralysis and his immune system is severely weakened. His cellmates have all been quarantined.
Moradi has a diploma in computer science and before his arrest sold mobile phones, computers, and software in Tehran.
On Friday, February 28, Amnesty International called for urgent action to save the lives of three protestors who took part in November uprisings, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi. The organization added that the three had been tried in an unjust trial and have been tortured.
Inmates infected with coronavirus have been seen in wards 4, 7 and 8. This has led to a canceling of activities outside of the ward and the ward has been placed under quarantine. There is no news about a number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience being held in this prison.
Urmia Central Prison
At least one inmate named Fariq Mohammadi, 47, has died because of infection with five others have been transferred to medical centers. The minimum standards of essential hygienic products are not available in this prison and because of overcrowding people sleep on the floor even in the proximity of sanitary facilities.
Nurses in special protective clothes transferred an inmate to medical centers out of the prison from ward 14 on suspicion of coronavirus infection on Thursday afternoon, February 27. There is no information about his whereabouts. One of the prisoners in ward 3 has contracted the virus. There are about 900 prisoners in wards 3 and 4.
Karaj’s Central Penitentiary
Family visits were canceled in Karaj’s Central Penitentiary last week because of the spread of coronavirus. The ward allocated to political prisoners and prisoners of conscience has been turned into the quarantine space for the infected. Prison authorities have placed political prisoners in the workers’ ward. The prison’s hygienic conditions are catastrophic. In each prison hall only 100 prisoners have beds. Beginning early morning, they spend time in the prison courtyard and during the night sleep on the floor in the corridors and in front of the sanitary facilities.
Qezel Hesar Prison
At least seven inmates are infected with coronavirus in Karaj’s Qezel Hesar Prison. Not only have the authorities refused to take care of them, they have provided no information about their condition. The identities of three of them are: Said Hemati, Meisam Monouri, and Mohammad-Hessam Rahimi.
Not even detergents are made available to prisoners in this prison. Given the severe overcrowding of the facility, prisoners suffer from lack of fresh air in the rooms and infection risk is high.
Rajai-Shahr Prison (Gohardasht)
Prisoners suspected of coronavirus infection are kept in public wards in Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj. Despite severe coughing and fever, these inmates are returned to the public wards after simply taking their body temperature. Inmates say that despite authorities’ denials of new prisoner entrees, new prisoners have routinely been taken there in recent days and even transfers to courts and judicial centers continue.
Additionally, on Wednesday, February 26, several inmates of the workers’ ward of the Greater Tehran prison were transferred to Rajai-Shahr prison to maintain services such as cooking. Given the spread of coronavirus in the Greater Tehran Prison, the infection risk is imminent.
Cases of infection have been detected in ward 3. The infected inmates are kept with others with no quarantine. Reportedly, on Tuesday, February 25, a dying infected inmate was transferred out of the prison. Nothing is known about his fate.
Ahvaz Shiban Prison
In Ahvaz Shiban Prison, at least two inmates named Milad Baghlani and Hamid-Reza Makki have contracted coronavirus and have been transferred to prison quarantine. There is no information about their situation.
The healthy ward of the Ardebil central prison has been evacuated and prisoners that show symptoms of the virus are transferred to this ward. A large number of political prisoners are in this prison.
A number of prisoners in Zahedan Prison have contracted the coronavirus and have been transferred out of the wards to unknown locations. The virus has spread in ward 4 and at least one prisoner has been transferred to an unknown location.
A large number of political prisoners are being held in this ward and are in danger of contracting the virus. A number of prisoners from other wards who have been infected have been transferred after a delay of several days and after their conditions worsened. There is no news about their whereabouts. Prison officials canceled all visits last week.
Kermanshah and Sanandaj Prisons
On March 3, 2020, a prisoner in the public ward of Kermanshah’s Dizelabad Prison was transferred by health workers to health centers outside the prison after his condition worsened. On the same day, another prisoner was transferred out of prison under tight security from Sanandaj central prison.
The virus had begun to circulate in Iran some time ago but the regime had direct orders from Khamenei to withhold information from the public because of the February 11 anniversary of the revolution and the February 21 election charade. It was not until late February that officials acknowledged the virus infections and that was too late. The regime was the main culprit and reason for the spread of the Coronavirus in Iran.
The regime has consistently under-reported the number of those infected or killed by the virus and has turned the issue of statistics into a matter of the regime’s security and has thus covered up the extent of the public health crisis facing Iran and the world.
The regime is trying to imply everything is normal. The public has strongly rejected Rouhani and Khamenei’s remarks questioning the seriousness of the matter. The regime has been forced to cancel meetings of its parliament, its Friday prayers, and several other gatherings despite the denials and this shows the extent of the crisis.
Evidence shows that the IRGC has been complicit in the spread of the virus to the city of Qom and then to other cities. The widespread expansion of infected Iranians demonstrates the incompetence of this regime.
There is a shortage of medical supplies but the medical supplies that already existed in Iran and could have been sufficient to counter the virus were grossly mismanaged due to corruption and hoarding by the IRGC and government agencies affiliated to Khamenei. Even medical personnel do not have the minimum supplies to fight the virus and protect themselves.
The epidemic has been very costly to the regime. It has been a total disaster politically, has squeezed the regime further economically, and mounted public disgust of the regime more than ever before.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), pointed out that the campaign of cover-ups, lies, and misinformation mounted by the regime was a bid to counter the uprising and wrath of the Iranian people who see the mullahs’ regime as the main reason for the spread of the Coronavirus. She again emphasized the imperative to protest and strike at any time and place possible and reiterated that all the medical and health supplies and facilities in Iran must be set free of the monopoly of the IRGC and placed at the disposal of physicians and the Iranian people.