Government papers leaked to BBC show massive cover-up of real death toll in Iran from the coronavirus pandemic.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Iran’s government has systematically covered up the real death toll from the coronavirus pandemic. The actual number of deaths is nearly triple what Iran’s government claims, the BBC reported on Monday.
Although the Iranian Health Ministry reported 14,405 deaths from Covid-19 symptoms as of July 20, government records leaked to the BBC by anonymous sources showed almost 42,000 succumbed to the virus.
Those records also showed the actual number of people in Iran known to be infected is 451,024, almost double the Health Ministry number of 278,827.
The official numbers still make Iran the worst-hit in the Middle East.
While official numbers worldwide are suspected of being lower than the real infection rate due to lack of adequate testing, the numbers revealed by the BBC show what appears to be a deliberate move by the Tehran government to suppress the actual figures.
The source who leaked the figures to the BBC said they did so to “shed light on truth” and to end “political games” over the pandemic.
The data showed Iran’s first recorded coronavirus death occurred in January, but the government only reported the first case a month later, despite numerous media reports and warnings by Iranian medical professionals. During that time the data showed 52 other people had already died from the virus.
Doctors with direct knowledge of the matter told the BBC that the Iranian Health Ministry has been under pressure from security and intelligence bodies inside Iran.
A source who used the pseudonym “Dr. Pouladi” told the BBC the Health Ministry “was in denial” because they initially did not have enough testing kits or use them properly.
“The position of the security services was not to admit to the existence of coronavirus in Iran,” Dr Pouladi said, adding that even after people died with clear symptoms of coronavirus, the bodies were not tested and the deaths were not reported.
One reason for the cover-up appears to be that the pandemic outbreak coincided both with the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and with parliamentary elections, the BBC report said. The government apparently preferred to have people demonstrate their popular support for Iran instead of telling them about the dangers of the virus.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused those trying to raise the alarm of wanting to use the coronavirus to undermine the election.
With the virus spreading, Iran was already dealing with an economic crisis from international sanctions against the rogue regime. In the wake of the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January, nervous Iranian soldiers shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane by mistake, killing all 176 people on board.
Iranian authorities initially denied they shot down the plane, but later were forced to admit the act with the ensuing international embarrassment.
Former Iranian legislator and health official Dr. Nouroldin Pirmoazzen told the BBC that the Iranian government was “anxious and fearful of the truth” when coronavirus hit Iran.
“The government was afraid that the poor and the unemployed would take to the streets,” Pirmoazzen said.
The source of the document leak, Dr. Pouladi, noted that “those who brought the country to this point don’t pay the price. It is the poor people of the country and my poor patients who pay the price with their lives.”
“In the confrontation between the governments of the U.S. and Iran we are getting crushed with pressures from both sides,” Dr. Pouladi said.