“If the policy of complete quarantine in all infected areas of Iran is not implemented and if things go on as they are now, by late May the number of casualties of coronavirus could reach 700,000,” a government official closely associated to the National Headquarters to Contain and Fight Coronavirus (NHCFC) has told IranWire.

The government official says that according to an official estimate prepared by the NHCFC at the request of the government, if the current situation does not change unpredictably and if areas in which the infection has been identified are completely quarantined, there are still fears that the number of casualties might come close to 200,000. If the quarantine is not enforced, the figure could reach to about 700,000. 

The official IranWire spoke to pointed out that government figures regarding the infection are way below accurate numbers, and that the justification for this is that the true figures would spread panic among the people, even though some officials associated with the NHCFC are against this policy of keeping the public shielded from the truth. 

According to him, opponents of the policy of secrecy believe that failing to report the accurate figures for coronavirus infections and fatalities makes it difficult to receive immediate international aid and also confuses people. An immediate result of this confusion, he says, is that people ignore the importance of quarantining at home since they are not aware of the depth of the disaster and of the structural inefficiency of the government in containing the crisis. “For example, if the people of Qazvin knew that the real number of infections in the city that had been identified by Friday, March 6, were 600 and that 19 people have died, they might have quarantined themselves inside their homes as much as possible,” the official said.

The official told IranWire that by the end of Friday, March 6, in Tehran alone 260 people had died from the coronavirus infection. More than 200 of the fatalities were buried in Tehran’s Behesht Zahar Cemetery and the bodies of about 60 of them were sent to the cities where their families live. He says that one action the government has taken to prepare for the increasing number of infected patients has been to set up a field hospital on the grounds of Tehran International Exhibition Center. The hospital is being built with prefabricated industrial sheds and will be equipped with military beds.


Martial Law Rejected

According to the official, the NHCFC asked the leaders of the Islamic Republic to declare martial law in infected areas to stop movement to and from these areas, but this request was rejected. “They even returned working hours to normal and apparently this increased commutes and travels,” he says. “Of course, when they don’t inform people about the dimensions of the disaster, they must expect this. They must expect the people who trust government figures not to take the situation seriously enough.”

He believes that the regime’s leaders are playing with people’s lives and he hopes that international organizations will lend a hand in helping Iranian people by declaring an emergency situation in Iran. “The regime’s favorites have access to medication and medical services and, if they are infected and the illness is not severe, they will recover,” he says. “A perfect example is [Rouhani’s First Vice President] Eshagh Jahangiri, who is now in a stable condition. The doctors say that he is recovering, although he is still resting.”

According to the government official, another serious problem is the scarcity of medication for treating coronavirus patients. “The world must know about severe shortage of these drugs so they can force heads of the regime to declare an emergency situation in Iran and ask the outside world for help.”


Related Coverage:

IranWire Reports on Coronavirus Outbreak in Iran

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Iran’s War Veterans are Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus, 5 March 2020

Iranian Parliamentarian: Bodies are Piled in the city of Qom. Quarantine the City!, 5 March 2020

Iran’s War Veterans are Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus, 5 March 2020

Iranian Nurses Risk Their Lives Fighting Coronavirus, Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Coronavirus and the Legitimacy of the Regime, 3 March 2020

Coronavirus has Made us Different People, 28 February 2020


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