Iran has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, something that even top government officials are now willing to admit.
“Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran,” Kianush Jahanpur tweeted. The official’s message was released in Farsi, with Reuters providing a translation.
The Los Angeles Times has reported that Iran’s ruling religious authorities have dispensed with standard Islamic burial customs in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Real figures could be much worse
As of Friday morning, Iran’s official death toll stood at 1,284. However, some have suggested that the country is hiding the true numbers.
Among them is Turkey-based journalist Kaveh Taheri. He serves as chairman of the Institute of Capacity Building for Human Rights.
“Based on grassroots reports received from the country, I am convinced that the estimates would be very close to reality and we do not trust the official statistics,” MSN quoted Taheri as saying.
“Iranians inside the country are extremely frightened,” he continued, adding, “You cannot imagine how desperate the people are.”
A paper published by the medical website medRxiv argued that the actual number of infected Iranians was “far higher than reported case counts.”
It went on to say that “18,300 COVID-19 cases would have had to occur in Iran” by February 23. However, the Iranian government claimed there were only 43 cases at the time. The New York Times published a series of satellite pictures that appear to show mass graves being dug in the city of Qom.
Ordinary Iranians aren’t the only ones at risk. Iran’s deputy health minister made headlines when he became visibly ill during a televised addressed about coronavirus. He later tested positive for the illness.
The country has even begun furloughing prisoners, including American Michael White. A US Navy veteran, White has been held in Iran for almost 2 years.
“The United States will continue to work for Michael’s full release as well as the release of all wrongfully detained Americans in Iran,” ABC News quoted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying on Thursday.