Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, February 28, 2020—Iranian health ministry officials confirmed 26 deaths and 245 coronavirus infection on Thursday, while reports and evidence shows that both the infection and death toll of the deadly virus outbreak in Iran is much larger. New cases include the president of Qom’s Medical University along with two of his deputies and 10 physicians and nurses. Masoumeh Ebtekar, one of Hassan Rouhani’s Vice Presidents, has also tested positive for covid-19.
Coronavirus has now spread to 20 provinces, according to Iranian officials. The regime canceled Friday Prayers in 23 provinces due to the coronavirus outbreak. The uncontrolled and mismanaged spread of the deadly virus has transformed Iran into an epicenter of infection in the Middle East and many countries are reporting new cases of coronavirus infection from people who have traveled there from Iran. Neighboring countries are shutting down their borders with Iran to prevent the spread of the virus.
But while officials try to downplay and normalize the situation, the regime’s dismal management of the coronavirus outbreak, which is now taking its toll on the lives of the Iranian population, has become the source of public outrage and potential nationwide protests.
Coronavirus outbreak causes a health crisis in Iran’s prisons
News broke earlier in the week that coronavirus infection cases were found in several prisons, including Gohardasht prison, Evin Prison, Karaj Markazi Prison, Ghezelhesar prison and Orumiyeh prison. Sanitary conditions in Iran’s prisons are abysmal to begin with. Prison authorities usually deprive prisoners from basic hygiene and medical care facilities as a means to torture them. With the spread of coronavirus, the situation has only grown worse for the prisoners.
On Thursday, a 44-year-old prisoner in Fashafuyeh prison who had coronavirus symptoms died. Reports indicate regime authorities prevent prisoners from having access to medical care and refrain from sending them to hospitals. Requests to quarantine prisoners who show suspicious symptoms have been declined by regime officials. The regime is concealing news about conditions in prisons and the spread of coronavirus among inmates.
Meanwhile, regime authorities are arresting people who are reporting news about the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. At least 142 people have been arrested in this regard.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council to intervene to save the lives of these prisoners.
The outbreak of the #Coronavirus in Evin and Gohardasht prisons is a serious danger. I urge the UN High Commissioner for #HumanRights and the Human Rights Council to immediately intervene to save the lives of prisoners and prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe #Iran— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) February 26, 2020
At the same time, the death toll of the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise. On Thursday, reports pertained to three deaths in Lahijan, two more deaths in Khuzestan and two in Ardebil.
Other provinces continue to report new cases of covid-19 infections.
A report by researchers in Canada’s University of Toronto had estimated coronavirus infections in Iran to be around 18,000.
The regime's own media are acknowledging the scale of the epidemic is much larger than officials admit. The state-run newspaper “Iran” wrote on Thursday: “It’s not possible that with under 200 person infected [with coronavirus] there were 20 deaths. We must have a scientific estimate so providing information must be focused on telling the truth, clearly with definitive emphasis.”
Iran’s regime continues to coverup the coronavirus outbreak
On Thursday, the state-run Keyhan daily wrote, “Dissident news websites and the presence of the [MEK] has caused terror… Dissident websites and social media networks tried to create the impression that the coronavirus has been in Iran for a long time and the government is preventing the publication of news in this regard.”
However, locals and medical staff who spoke to the MEK and other news websites said that the telltale signs of the coronavirus were seen long before regime officials acknowledged two deaths last week.
A woman reporting from Tehran on Tuesday said, “The situation is much worse than state media and officials are reporting… Yesterday, we were at the Yaft Abad Hospital. There were 17 deaths in that hospital in just the few hours that I was at that hospital… How can the declare the total deaths in the city to be eight?”
A local reporting from Zanjan’s Vali Asr Hospital said, “Security forces at the hospital don’t allow anyone to take count of the coronavirus patients. Yesterday, I wanted to take one of my loved ones to the hospital, one of my friends who worked there warned me there were 15 coronavirus patients and we would be infected too if we went to the hospital.”
With the regime regularly covering up news about natural disasters, the people of Iran are both outraged and worried about the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. In Qom, which is the epicenter of the deadly virus in Iran, regime officials knew of coronavirus cases weeks ago, but they refrained from informing the public for fear of a low voter turnout in the parliamentary elections.
In Khuzestan, the caretaker of the medical school said, “Before Wednesday noon, we had reports of three coronavirus infection cases in Ahvaz, Andimeshk and Hendijan. The patient in Andimeshk died.” The victim was subsequently silently buried without informing the public.
The regime tries to dampen public outrage by spreading fake news. The governor of Gilan province told the state-run television, “We give free masks and gloves at the sanitary centers.” A local from Rasht denied the claim and said that even the medical staff don’t have gloves.