The Iranian government has shutdown an “influential” newspaper that recently published an interview with an alleged government doctor who claimed that Iran had “engineered” coronavirus “statistics” for the total number of deaths and cases in the country.
“The Jahan-e Sanat newspaper quoted Mohammadreza Mahboubfar, an epidemiologist on Iran’s national coronavirus task force, as saying the country’s virus figures ‘have certainly been engineered since the start of the outbreak,'” Bloomberg News reported. “‘I believe the numbers announced by the Health Ministry are 1/20th of the reality’ of Iranians infected and dead, he said, according to the newspaper’s website jahanesanat.ir.”
Iran currently reports that the country has had 329,000 cases and 18,616 deaths. If the numbers that Mahboubfar alleges are true, that means that Iran has had over 6.5 million cases and more than 370,000 deaths — which is more than double the number of deaths that the United States has reported.
The coronavirus numbers that Iran has reported have been considered to be unreliable since nearly the start of the pandemic as “doctors and nurses say they have been warned by security forces to keep quiet,” The New York Times reported during the first week in March. “And some officials say Tehran’s hierarchy is understating the true extent of the outbreak — probably, experts contend, because it will be viewed as a failure that enemies will exploit.”
“The administration resorted to secrecy for political and security reasons,” Mahboubfar alleged.
Iranian Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari claims that Mahboubfar did not work on the government’s anti-coronavirus campaign and claimed that the Health Ministry “is not a political body and health of people is its main priority.”
“Authorities in Iran have come under heavy criticism since the start of the pandemic because of their reluctance to impose the kind of sweeping restrictions seen elsewhere in the region,” The Associated Press reported. “Iran is home to the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East.”
The BBC’s Persian news service reported last week that the Iranian government’s own records showed that the number of deaths and cases were significantly higher than what it had publicly disclosed.
“The government’s own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with Covid-19 symptoms up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry,” the BBC reported. “The number of people known to be infected is also almost double official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827.”
A top WHO official estimated back in March that the number of cases in Iran was being significantly underreported.
In April, Iranian coronavirus task force epidemiologist Dr. Hamid Souri slammed communist China and suggested that at the time Iran still had not hit its peak, despite being one of the first countries to be hit hard by the virus in February.
“The evidence shows us that what happened is worse than what the Chinese reported,” Souri said. “We could not make any judgements at first because our country had no experience [with coronavirus] to compare the results.”
“Wrong data leads to wrong results and incorrect policies which in turn lead to in an increase in the number of victims,” Souri continued. “Italy is now experiencing a slowing trend [in infections and deaths] but we have unfortunately not got there yet.”
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