Covid Deaths In Iran Could Be Four Times Higher Than Official Numbers
An official of Iran's Medical Council on Sunday said government underreporting of COVID deaths, which he said could be four times higher than the official number, is one of the reasons for the increase in cases and deaths and "a dangerous and uncorrectable mistake".
"On the basis of reports by medical staff on the ground and also statistics from cemeteries one can say that the [real] number of COVID deaths in the country is around three to four times higher than the official figures," Dr Hossein Gheshlaghi, a member of Iran's medical licensing and regulatory body, the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying.
Dr Gheshlaghi also warned that the lack of transparent and precise reporting of the situation and only flagging cities as "red" or "yellow" zones is "a dangerous and uncorrectable mistake and one of the important reasons for the increase in the number of cases and deaths, as people are less aware of the dangers of the pandemic.
He pointed out that "mismanagement" and "not employing the established scientific methods in controlling and preventing pandemics" as well as "lack of sufficient coordination" among the various authorities in the country are among the other factors contributing to the loss of control in managing the pandemic and the increase in deaths.
Other officials have also stated that the real number of COVID deaths is much higher than the official figures. On October 20, Dr. Masoud Mardani, who sits on the Scientific Committee of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, said that the daily death toll, was “not real.” “To know how many people lose their lives each day in reality, the figure should be multiplied by 2.5,” Mardani said, as quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency.
Iran's daily case numbers have significantly increased in the past month and the country is currently experiencing a third peak of the pandemic. On October 19 Iran registered its highest daily COVID deaths, 337, since February. On Sunday the Health Ministry announced 296 deaths for the last 24-hour reporting period and 6,191 new cases which brings the official total to 32,616 deaths and 568,896 cases.
If Iran had close to 100,000 deaths, it could top all other countries in the ratio of Covid deaths to population.
On Saturday in a meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, President Hassan Rouhani alleged that in recent months a "mutated European [strain] of coronavirus which can infect at a rate nine times higher [than the previous strain] has been rampant in the country.
With deepening crisis and rising case numbers Iran announced month-long new restrictions for 43 cities with critically high number of cases and deaths, including the capital Tehran, on Thursday. According to the new regulations only 50 percent of government employees will report to work in the capital and the Province of Tehran.
With the new regulations in place, the issue of keeping places of worship and religious congregation open has once again become a matter of contention. Hardliners and the religious establishment strongly oppose the closure of mosques and shrines. According to Fars News Agency, Health Minister Saeed Namaki has said that the outdoor spaces of the shrines in the religious cities of Mashhad and Qom will still be open to the public.