Iran Reports Highest Daily Covid Death Toll As Restrictions Are Imposed
As Iran registered its highest ever official Covid death toll on November 1, the people of the capital, Tehran, await a decision on a two-week lockdown to fight the worsening pandemic.
The coronavirus taskforce also announced that in 25 provincial capitals there would be restrictions on movement from midday Monday. No local cars can leave these cities and no private vehicles with plate numbers from other cities can enter. The restrictions on vehicle movements will fully apply in Tehran province and neighbouring Alborz.
The health ministry on Sunday announced 434 Covid deaths since Saturday, the highest in nine months, while more than 5,200 patients are in serious or critical condition in the intensive care units of hospitals.
Since mid-February, Iran has hesitated to institute complete lockdowns or quarantine of pandemic hotspots, fearing its fragile economy could get even worse than what it has already experienced for the past three years of recession. As a result, the country never really emerged from the first wave of the pandemic, but in October rate of infections and deaths accelerated.
The health ministry announced Sunday that with higher number of patients being hospitalized, it is forecasting daily death to climb higher. Iran’s population is 82 million or one-fourth of the United States. Four hundred deaths daily would be the equivalent of 1,600 deaths in the US.
Still, these are Iran’s official government numbers, which some officials and health experts have questioned. An official of Iran's Medical Council on October 24 said the government is underreporting COVID deaths, which he said could be four times higher than the official number.
"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. Earlier, lawmakers, local officials and medical experts had already cast doubt on government numbers.
The government says so far over 35,000 have died, but if the critics are rights and Iran has had more than100,000 deaths, it would the highest death rate in the world in terms of population size.
The government has also decided to deploy the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and it Basij militia to help enforce Covid restrictions. But some Iranians believe this might be a tactic to prevent protests on the first anniversary of last year’s mid-November protests, during which authorities used military weapons against the protesters and hundreds were killed.