New Delhi/Tehran, March 19 (IANS) Iran’s democratic coalition of opposition organisations has claimed that the actual number of coronavirus casualties in the Islamic republic is much higher than what the theocratic regime in Tehran has revealed.
In a scathing report, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which was formed in 1981 and headed by well-known activist Marayam Rajavi, has said that “Several indicators confirm that the extent of the crisis is far greater than what the theocratic regime has admitted.”
The NCRI said the very first report on the epidemic was about the death of two infected people, without any specific information about where the virus had first been detected in Iran. “Considering that it usually takes a period of at least 27 days to detect visible signs of the illness, and that according to sporadic, unofficial reports, the first death in Iran took place in the city of Qom at least three days after the patient’s hospitalisation, and that death was announced before test results were even in,” the NCRI said.
Blaming the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for the spread of the virus to the city of Qom, the epicentre of the pandemic in Iran, NCRI pointed out that the regime did not suspend air services to China even as Wuhan had been badly hit. “Evidence shows that the IRGC has been complicit in the spread of the virus and from there to other cities,” the NCRI said.
Quoting Dr Massoud Mardani, a specialist in infectious diseases and member of the National Influenza Committee and Massoud Pezeshkian, first deputy speaker of the Parliament and a former Health Minister, the NCRI calculated that the number of those dead due to the infection could be six times higher than the number revealed by the Iranian regime.
Mardani had told the state-owned daily Entekhab on March 5 that coronavirus was transmitting very rapidly.
“As one contaminated person can infect four others, we estimate that 30 to 40 per cent of Tehran’s population will be infected by the virus in two weeks,” she had said. Tehran has a population of 12 to 13 million.
Pezeshkian on March 3 had said, “The [official] numbers are not real, because there are a number of patients who show no symptoms. We locate 95 [infected] people and two die, so we say 2 have died out of a 100, whereas it may be that 2 per cent of 10,000 have died.”
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI, said the regime had been aware of the spread of the virus to Iran for some time, but on the order of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, it resorted to a cover-up to ensure a high turnout for the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution and the sham election. “The virus rapidly spread to different parts of Iran because people were kept in the dark.”
The regime has consistently underreported the number of people infected or killed by the virus and has turned the issue of statistics into a security matter, thus covering up the extent of the public health crisis facing Iran and the world, the NCRI said.