The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Iranian government report suggests virus deaths 'nearly double' reported figures, with '760,000' positive cases Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Iranian government report suggests virus deaths 'nearly double' reported figures, with '760,000' positive cases

The report represents the highest-level charge yet from within the Islamic Republic's government [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2020

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
The 46-page report by Iran's parliament research center, published online, carries the weight of being written by nonpartisan experts within the country.

The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus pandemic is likely nearly double the officially reported figures, due to undercounting and because not everyone with breathing problems has been tested for the virus, according to a parliament report released on Tuesday.

As far as the positive cases are involved, and given the undertesting, the number of people infected is probably "eight to 10 times" higher than the reported figures, the report said.

If correct, the report's worst-case figures would put Iran's death toll potential as high over 8,500, with some 760,000 total cases. That would catapult Iran to the country with the highest number of infections in the world.

The U.S. has over 600,000 confirmed cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, though experts believe that number likely is larger as well.

Iranian health officials offered no comment on the report, which represents the highest-level charge yet from within the Islamic Republic's government of its figures being questionable, something long suspected by international experts.

Iran on Wednesday put the death toll at 4,777, out of 76,389 confirmed cases of the virus - still making it the Middle East's worst outbreak by far.

The report comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues to push for a slow reopening of the country's economy, which remains targeted by crushing U.S. sanctions.

If its own figures offered to the World Health Organization are wrong, it adds to fears by some that encouraging people to return to work will spark a second wave of infections.

Read more: Iran allows smalls businesses to reopen as economy falters

"In order to have more compatibility between protocol and estimated statistics, it is necessary to increase laboratory and testing capabilities in the country," the report said.

"Needless to say that through increasing the capacities, diagnosis of disease will be more possible and spread of the disease will be more limited.” it added.

The 46-page report by Iran's parliament research center, published online, carries the weight of being written by nonpartisan experts within the country.

Already, hard-liners have seized on Rouhani's handling of the pandemic to criticize him and his administration, which is held in poor regard after his 2015 nuclear deal with world powers collapsed due to President Donald Trump's move that unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the accord.

The explosive charges on Tuesday came in a footnote on page 6 in what appeared to be an otherwise routine report.

It said Health Ministry death toll figures counted only those who died in hospitals and had gotten positive test results for the virus. That disregarded all coronavirus victims who died in their homes.

The report also said that aggressive testing, something experts have seized upon as necessary in the pandemic, has not been done in Iran  meaning other cases likely have been missed. It suggested the true death toll in Iran is probably 80% higher than figures now given, or nearly double.

International experts long have suggested they suspected Iran's numbers as its mortality was higher than other nations. While other countriess also have seen cases spike, Iran's reported numbers so far have offered a gradual slope.

The report also accused authorities of not providing its authors with "detailed figures" over the disease. It also warned that more than 30,000 people could die if strict quarantine measures aren't taken.

Last week, lawmaker Reza Shiran from the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, said that there had "been no correct reporting on the death toll." He alleged official reports instead labeled deaths as coming from an "acute respiratory syndrome."

Deputy Health Minister Ali Reza Raisi on Wednesday acknowledged that the "limits of testing" faced by Iran means it doesn’t have accurate figures of all those infected.

"The real figures are more than the official statistics but it is not correct to multiply official figures by two or three," he said, without elaborating or directly addressing the parliament report.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More