The Iranian government’s six-month record in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak shows a perfect view of the ayatollahs’ function in the past 41 years. In practice, the current situation in Iran’s different sectors, including socioeconomic, political, cultural, environmental, and health areas, is the natural outcome of 41 years of systematic corruption and ruthless suppression.
In this context, authorities ceaselessly try to downplay their horrible performance in the past months to contain the “next social consequences.” However, the statistics obtained by the opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) reveal the truth.
While the government neither can nor wants to provide the actual number of fatalities fur to its inadequate infrastructure and public distrust, the MEK provides daily reports of death count and the status of different provinces. The organization tallies firsthand reports through its expansive domestic networks, the “Resistance Units,” who are active across all of Iran’s 31 provinces.
“Over 115,100 people have died of the novel coronavirus in 450 cities,” the MEK reported on Friday, October 3. However, the official death toll declared by the Health Ministry Spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari stood at 26,746—around a fourth of the actual figure.
To discover the real magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis, it is just enough to review some reports published in official and semi-official websites and news agencies about the dire condition in the capital, Tehran.
On September 27, the government was compelled to re-close schools. Back on September 5, President Hassan Rouhani and Education Minister Morteza Haji Mirzaei pushed millions of students and teachers to contaminated schools across the country. The government’s irresponsible decision led to the infection of 10,000 students with the novel coronavirus and the death of 100-200, according to Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi’s remarks published by Entekhab news agency on September 27.
“The number of deaths in some provinces is unprecedented and far more than previous numbers. Our main concern is Tehran province. If provincial officials deem necessary, the one-week closure of schools and universities will be extended,” Mehr News Agency quoted Harirchi as saying on the same day.
Meanwhile, Ali Reza Zali, head of Tehran Covid-19 Task Force, sounded the alarm about a human catastrophe in the Iranian capital. “Tehran is in a state of complete crisis and it is very dangerous,” he had said on September 26. Zali also acknowledged the ministers of Health and Interior had requested that restrictions and preemptive measures to be reimposed in Tehran.
Nader Tavakoli, Zali’s deputy, also expressed concerns about the rise in coronavirus victims. “The number of people hospitalized is at times even more than the numbers we saw back in February,” he told the official IRNA news agency on September 26.
On the other hand, professionals estimate the death toll will increase due to Covid-19 coinciding with seasonal flu in the fall and winter. “If we continue with this trend, we may be witnessing 600 deaths each day in November. Another estimate shows 900 deaths in December,” said Payam Tabarsi, head of the Epidemiology Section in Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari Hospital.
Also, the spokesperson of the Parliament (Majlis) Health Commission Zahra Sheikhi highlighted the government’s inability to contain the health crisis. “If conditions continue as we speak, we will not be able to control the coronavirus crisis,” she said in an interview with the semi-official ISNA news agency on September 29.
“Tehran, our index in the fight against Covid-19, is the worst-hit area. Various ministries and officials usually veto decisions. This has resulted in an increasing spread of the virus and further pressure on our medical professionals,” Sheikhi added and stressed on the destructive interference of politicians in health affairs.
Furthermore, health officials frequently warned about the medical staff’s living and working conditions. At least 150 doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers have died of coronavirus since the beginning of the crisis. In Tehran, at least “6,000 doctors and nurses have contracted the virus,” Zali said.
On October 2, Hossein Kermanpour, the head of the Emergency Section of Tehran’s Sina Hospital, criticized officials for inattention to the family of doctors and nurses who had lost their lives to the coronavirus. “Several families have lost their breadwinners due to the coronavirus. The families of some ‘health martyrs’ [referring to medical staff who have died of the Covid-19] are in severe need of minimum goods. No measure has been adopted for the health martyrs’ families. These people need care,” Etemad Online website wrote.
Iranian authorities are crippled to contain the health crisis in spite of their deceptive mottos. The coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences dramatically shrunk people’s revenue. On the other hand, not a day goes by without new increases in the price of essential goods and foodstuffs.
Such circumstances spur the people on thinking beyond the current ruling system, which is the icon of failure, corruption, and suppression. In this context, not only officials and state-run media outlets but also economists and sociologists constantly warn about society’s volatile conditions and upcoming protests.