Iran: real infections more than reported ones, say experts

Iran may see a more deadly wave of coronavirus infections in autumn if strict restrictions not implemented.

Iran virus infections

Rouhani said on Sunday that the application of tough virus measures in Iran to stem the spread of infections was “not possible.”
Speaking during a meeting of Iran’s anti-coronavirus task force in Tehran, Hassan Rouhani opted for a “moderate path” between a total lockdown and ending restrictions fully.

Anti-virus measures in Iran “not possible” amid rising infections

He said the application of tough measures against the pandemic in Iran “leads to depression and anxiety in the society.”

The Iranian leader warned that the situation can turn “dangerous” if health protocols are not observed, adding that punitive measures would be taken against defaulters.

The graph of new virus cases and deaths in Iran has seen a slight downward tilt in recent days, with daily deaths sliding down the 200-mark after several weeks.

Read more: Iran refuses to shut down economy despite accelerating pandemic

On Sunday, Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari announced 2,020 new virus infections and 163 deaths over the past 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 326,712 cases and 18,427 deaths.

Rouhani, however, warned that the pandemic is likely to stay around for another six month or until the time a vaccine is developed.

A few weeks ago, citing a Health Ministry report, Rouhani had warned of a long haul, saying the second phase of the virus in Iran was likely to prolong until the end of Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2021).

According to that report, 25 million people in Iran have contracted COVID-19 in the past five months since its outbreak in mid-February, and another 30-35 million were likely to be affected in the coming months.

Deadly wave in autumn: experts say real virus figures higher than announced

The coronavirus figures announced by the Iranian authorities are one-twentieth of the real numbers, a member of an anti-virus taskforce said Monday.

Read more: “25 million Iranians” infected by COVID: Rouhani

“There was no transparent flow of information regarding the numbers. Authorities announce official numbers by considering political and security concerns”, Mohammad Reza Mahboubfar told the Iranian Jahanesanat news website.

Mahboubfar said despite all the warnings, President Hassan Rouhani’s statement that the mourning ceremonies of Ashura will be celebrated with enthusiasm revealed serious disagreements between the taskforce members and the government.

Criticizing government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions due to economic concerns, Mahboubfar said Iran may face a new more deadly wave in autumn if strict measures are not taken across the country.

Iran is struggling to contain the pandemic since February when the first cases were confirmed in the holy city of Qom.

Read more: Iran registers highest count of Coronavirus cases in a day

Restrictions aimed at stemming the outbreak were gradually eased amid concerns over the economy, which is already under immense pressure due to US sanctions imposed after Washington exited the landmark 2015 nuclear deal Tehran signed with six world powers.

The virus has infected nearly 20 million people in at least 188 countries and regions since last December, according to the latest figures by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Iran allows Muharram processions despite rising virus infections

As many as 189 new coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 18,616, the Health Ministry said Monday.

A total of 2,132 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, pushing the tally to 328,844, according to ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

She said more than 286,642 patients have recovered so far, while 3,992 are hospitalized in critical condition. Over 2.71 million tests have been conducted in Iran to date.

Despite the rising number of infections and virus-linked deaths, President Hassan Rouhani has allowed mourning processions during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

“We must take a moderate path because it is not possible to continue the severe restrictions, and we cannot completely shut down economic, educational and cultural activities,” he told a virus task force meeting on Sunday. “We have no choice but to have activities, but also to follow the health protocols completely.”

Believers commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, until the 10th day of Muharram, known as Ashura.

Iran is struggling to contain the pandemic since February when the first cases were confirmed in the holy city of Qom.

Read more: Iran appeals IMF for emergency loan request to combat coronavirus

Restrictions aimed at stemming the outbreak were gradually eased amid concerns over the economy, which is already under immense pressure due to the US sanctions imposed after Washington exited the landmark 2015 nuclear deal Tehran had signed with six world powers.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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