A plane from the Iranian private airline, Mahan Air. (AP)

May 20, 2020

Ninety days after the announcement of the first two deaths and the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iranian sites have once again raised questions about the first epicenter of the pandemic in the country, while the total number of infections rose to 124,603 including 7,119 deaths, according to the latest data announced by the Health Ministry on Tuesday.

A member of the National Committee for Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health pointed to the formation of an investigation committee to track the impact of the virus.

“Initially, they said that an Arab trader, who works between Iran and China, transmitted the virus. Then, the committee concluded that a student returning from China to visit his family in the Gilan Governorate, could be behind the outbreak of the virus,” Mino Mahrez was quoted by Iranian media as saying.

The specialist pointed to another scenario, which says that the epidemic was transmitted through Chinese workers, who returned to Iran after the Chinese New Year holiday.

But she hinted that the committee’s investigation confirmed the accusations against airlines, saying that Iran had not stopped flights to and from China, unlike other countries.

Mahrez stated that despite the announcement of the first two deaths in Qom in parallel with the outbreak of COVID-19 there, the results of investigations indicated that the virus entered through the northern province of Gilan, one of the three epicenters of the virus.

“Because of the continued traffic between Iran and China, the transmission could have occurred at some point in the country,” she remarked.

An investigation by the BBC, published earlier this month, had highlighted the contribution of Iranian aviation to the spread of the pandemic in the region, through flights to and from China, and from Iran to the countries of the region.

Prior to that report, Iranian deputies demanded that a judicial investigation be opened into the movement of Iranian airline flights, especially Mahan, which has close links to the Revolutionary Guards.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.