Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, March 18, 2020—Coronavirus was discovered 12 days prior to the February 11 rally in Iran marking the 1979 revolution, according to the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily. However, this was kept a secret due to the fact that the February 11 rally was on schedule. The government could have initiative quarantine measures in Qom and prevent the coronavirus spread, the piece adds.
(Update: The coronavirus death toll in Iran has reached 6,400.)
The Etemad daily, another state newspaper in Iran, warned about the growing divide between the regime and the people. “Today, as we face the climax of our coronavirus crisis, a foreign-based outlet talks about a few thousand people dying of COVID-19 and others are seen making noise on social media!... Why is it that an interview by foreign- based media with a social media user has a similar impact and runs shoulder to shoulder with official news reports?... Not only do we lack any organization in our efforts, but we have also failed to prepare a plan to address the crisis. As usual, we wait for a crisis to actually take shape, then we decide to address the crisis with directors that have no capabilities during normal circumstances, let alone a crisis… All officials should be very aware to not add fuel to the crisis fire with their remarks…”
These remarks further indicate the powder keg conditions of Iran’s society.
UPDATE 10:00 PM CET
More than 6,400 people across 196 cities in all of Iran’s 31 provinces have died of the coronavirus, according to the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). This is a tally gathered as of Wednesday afternoon, March 18.
The death toll includes these provinces: 800 in Tehran, 790 in Qom, 763 in Gilan, 620 in Isfahan, 581 in Khorasan, 530 in Mazandaran, 393 in Golestan, 207 in Khuzestan, and 204 in Hamedan.
Over 6,400 people across 196 cities in Iran have died of coronavirus, per Iranian opposition PMOI/MEK.— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) March 18, 2020
-Death toll continues to rise in Qom
-Officials warning of possible protests/riots in Tehran, Qom, Isfahan, Mashhad and others#Iran#COVID2019https://t.co/W69WUTiihx
Reports from the city of Qom, known as Iran’s initial COVID-19 epicenter, indicate that contrary to the regime’s propaganda, there is an escalating trend in the number of victims. The mortuaries are overloaded, and people openly curse at Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, blaming him for their plight. Many clerics have fled Qom.
In Qom, Isfahan and other corona-stricken cities, local authorities have fled the city and refused to show up for work for as long as they can, leaving lower rank officials to deal with the deadly crisis. Most communications with the provincial and governorate offices, the municipality, and other state-related offices are left unanswered. This status quo points to growing confusion and chaos within the regime.
All the while, senior regime officials are deeply concerned about unrest and protests in Tehran and cities such as Qom, Isfahan, and Mashhad. They are particularly nervous about areas in city outskirts while expressing privately that "unrest will erupt in areas such as Shahr-e-Rey, Eslamshahr, and Akbar Abad in the future. People are poor and can't even afford to buy alcohol and gloves.”
While the outlook of the coronavirus crisis deteriorates due to the regime’s incompetence and weak infrastructure, regime President Hassan Rouhani, who had previously suggested that the crisis will be over by February 29, ridiculously claimed that, "We have now passed the peak in Qom and Gilan, our two most difficult cities… In Gilan 20% of hospital beds are empty”!
“One should compare Tehran with London, Berlin, and Paris...and see their empty stores. People fight each other over toilet paper, are worried and upset about their food; their hospitals announce that they have no more empty beds, but we have delivered for the people!” he claimed.
Alireza Zali, head of Tehran Anti-Coronavirus Operations, said, "Officials do not have a correct picture of the situation in our hospitals. They would realize the depth of the crisis only if they saw the number of hospitalized patients and those in critical condition...”
Furthermore, a representative of the regime’s Health Ministry acknowledged that 147 people had died in 24 hours from coronavirus.”
3:00 PM CET
Vatan-e Rouz daily: “A virus more dangerous than coronavirus is threatening us. A virus that cannot be prevented by washing your hands and using a mask; a virus that will eventually lead to people’s purchasing power to further decrease, increase the gap between the rich and the poor, lower the social wellbeing status, increase inflation, strengthen the investors and oppress the useful branch of our economy, destroy social assets and decrease investing. In general, one can say that we witnessed the downfall of [Iran’s] economy from March 2019 to March 2020.”
Siyasat-e Rouz daily: “The country’s circumstances, and those of our world, are very distinct. We are not in normal circumstances for us to voice or publish any criticism we wish.” This very clearly indicates the regime’s very fragile status as crises have engulfed the mullahs’ apparatus from all angles.