By Jubin Katiraie
The ayatollahs’ cover-up of the coronavirus entry to Iran not only endangered the lives and health of the Iranian people but also resulted in a rapid expansion of the pandemic in neighboring countries and even the world.
However, Iranian officials still attempt to downplay the real scope of the health crisis, claiming, “We managed to pass the peak of disease in many provinces,” according to President Hassan Rouhani on March 16.
Rouhani’s odd claim prompted several former Health Ministers and physicians to criticize the regime’s president in an open letter. “The course of the disease and its consequences are still on the rise and have not declined in any area,” the five former ministers wrote to Rouhani.
On the other hand, officials frequently blame the opposition group, Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), and social media activists for exposing the real number of the COVID-19 fatalities in Iran.
Notably, On March 17, Director of Emergency Operations in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Dr. Rick Brennan stated, “The number of cases reported could represent only about a fifth of the real numbers.”
The Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei desired to have crowds on the streets on the processions marking the 41st anniversary of the victory of the “Islamic Revolution.” He also would try to drag many people on the polls in the Parliamentary elections in February. However, none of these demands were met. Instead, the number of coronavirus cases was increased, according to the French Le Monde newspaper, on April 24.
Furthermore, several officials unveiled the regime is covering up the real death toll. “Tests have only been applied to half of the hospitalized patients. Only 20 percent of cases are hospitalized, only half of them have been tested, and only half of those tests turn out positive. Therefore, we can conclude that the real number of cases is 20 more than what is being reported,” the state-run Setareh-e Sobh quoted Massoud Younesian Dr. Massoud Yunessian, a member of the scientific delegation of Tehran Medical Sciences University, as saying on April 25.
Also, on April 13, a member of the Tehran City Council Mohammad Haghshenas admitted that the Iranian regime does not announce “real figures.” He addressed the head of the council Mohsen Hashemi and said, “At least in Tehran city, the scale of the death toll is completely inconsistent with official figures.”
However, in such circumstances, officials acknowledged that they had arrested thousands of citizens under the excuse of “spreading rumor” about the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
On April 29, Colonel Mohammad Ali Rajabi, the head of the Cyber Police Diagnosis and Prevention Center, stated that his forces have detained in charge of “spread rumors” about the coronavirus pandemic.
“Before COVID-19 even entered the country and before it was officially announced, we had numerous reports and rumors from videos that showed coronavirus patients hospitalized or patients that had collapsed on the street,” he told the state-run T.V.
He also claimed, “wanted to make it seem as though the (state) was not transparent in this regard and that the people were not given the truth.”
Earlier, on April 28, the General Staff of the Armed Forces’ spokesperson, Abolfazl Shekarchi, admired the Cyber Police (FATA) for countering the “misinformation campaign.”
“3,600 people who have been spreading rumors on social media were arrested by the police and the (Paramilitary) Basij forces, and 1,136 lawsuits have been filed against them,” he added.
In fact, arresting the citizens who only uploaded footage from the coronavirus patients and victims proves the Iranian government’s efforts for concealing the truth. Authorities try to underestimate the real figure of mortalities to hide their disastrous insufficient and inability.
However, the surprising death rate among officials displays that the government has been crippled to save its personnel, let alone ordinary people. On the other hand, the succumbing of more than 100 medical staff to the disease shows a part of the painful truth of the coronavirus outbreak in society.