News & Politics

Even With 7 Government Officials Infected With Coronavirus, Iran Still Can't Tell the Truth

In this picture released by the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to his supporters during his visit to Mashhad, 900 km (540 miles) east of Tehran, Iran. Khamenei is saying his country will realize its regional intentions while the United States will fail to achieve its purposes. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The government of Iran announced that the number of people who have died from the coronavirus now stands at 34, with 388 cases reported.

Oh, really?

That’s not what the BBC is reporting. They say that BBC Persia contacted several local hospitals in Tehran who report the death toll at 210 — six times higher than the “official” number.

Most of the victims are from the capital, Tehran, and the city of Qom, where cases of Covid-19 first emerged.

The figure is six times higher than the official death toll of 34 given by the health ministry earlier on Friday.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour insisted it was being transparent and accused the BBC of spreading lies.

It comes after a member of parliament for Qom accused the authorities of a cover-up and the US expressed concern that they may not be sharing information.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has offered U.S. assistance in dealing with the disease, but, not surprisingly, Iran turned him down cold.

The highest number of deaths were said to be in Tehran, where a disproportionately high number of officials have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19, including a vice-president, a deputy minister, and at least two MPs.

Friday prayers in Tehran and 22 other cities were cancelled, and schools and universities closed.

Thousands of Iranians have also been stranded inside and outside the country as many flights have been stopped to and from Iran.

All told, seven government officials have contracted the virus, including a vice president.

The Week:

Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs, is the latest Iranian government official to contract the COVID-19 coronavirus.

At least seven officials in the country have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ebtekar is the highest-ranking woman in Iran’s government, and is now quarantined at home, her deputy announced on Thursday. She was photographed on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting, sitting just a few yards away from President Hassan Rouhani.

The other infected officials are Iraj Harirchim, deputy health minister; Mojtaba Zolnour, a Parliament member from Qom and head of Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee; Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of Parliament from Tehran; Morteza Rahmanzadeh, the mayor of a Tehran district; Dr. Mohamad Reza Ghadir, head of coronavirus management in Qom; and Hadi Khosroshahi, a major cleric and former ambassador to the Vatican. Iran’s official media has reported that Khosroshahi, 81, has died.

I would say that the credibility of the Iranian government in this crisis needs some work.

Indeed, the population is close to rebellion even without the mismanaged response to the virus. This is the sort of thing that starts revolutions and, depending on how bad it gets, the coronavirus might do for the U.S. what we couldn’t do on our own.

Effect a regime change.