Iran revealed Tuesday that nearly 10 percent of Iranian lawmakers have been infected with the coronavirus as the deadly epidemic spreads through the country. On Monday, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after he was infected with the coronavirus, which has also infected Iran’s vice president and deputy health minister. The virus has killed at least 92 people in Iran and infected over 2,922 others. Iran has the most fatalities outside of China, where the coronavirus originated, which has over 80,000 confirmed cases and close to 3,000 deaths. The official fatality rate in Iran stands at 5.5 percent, well above the roughly 2 percent death rate allegedly reported in China.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei downplayed the extent of the virus in his country but nevertheless said Tuesday that he is putting Iran’s armed forces on alert, although he did not specify how the military would help combat the epidemic. “This calamity is not that big of a deal, and that there have been bigger ones in the past,” Khamenei said, according to the Mehr news agency. “I do not want to underestimate this issue of course, but let us not overestimate it either.” Iran has so far refused U.S. offers of help to combat the virus, expressing suspicion that the U.S. is trying to break the spirits of Iranians over the epidemic. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iranian government was attempting to cover up the scope of the toll the virus is taking on the population. –National Review
Modeling indicates explosive epidemic: International experts are questioning the scale of the new coronavirus epidemic in Iran, where the official death toll is second only to China and risks creating a regional epicenter of contagion. While Iran has acknowledged 43 deaths among 593 confirmed infections nationwide — with a vice-president and deputy health minister among those testing positive — unofficial tolls are much higher. The London-based BBC Persian service says 210 people have been killed by the virus; a figure it says it collated from hospital sources. The report was immediately dismissed by Iran’s health ministry. The People’s Mujahedin, an exiled organization that Tehran considers a terrorist group, claims that the epidemic has killed “more than 300”, while infecting up to 15,000 across the country.
Six epidemiologists based in Canada used a mathematical model to estimate that there have been more than 18,000 cases on Iranian soil. Their calculations — not yet peer reviewed — take into account the number of cases in other countries that originated from Iran. “When a country exports cases to other destinations it’s very likely that the burden of infection in this country is significant,” according to Isaac Bogoch, coauthor of the study and a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Toronto. –France 24