By Pouyan Khoshhal
December 1, 2020
Iran’s interior minister has directly contradicted official figures for the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, suggesting far fewer people have contracted the virus. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated that, in the worst-case assessment, only three percent of Iranians had been infected.
The comments came as news broke that two more members of Iran’s parliament have been infected with coronavirus: Kazem Delkhosh-Abatari, spokesman for the parliament’s Judiciary Committee, and Hajar Chenarani. No news about their condition is available.
Fazli, who is also the commander of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s “Base of Operations,” added for clarity: “This means that 97 percent of our people are healthy and do not need to worry. We must put all of our efforts into taking care of this three percent and they must take care of themselves as well so that the other 97 percent can live on in comfort. For the sake of this three percent we are forced to put the other 97 percent in a special situation and impose lockdowns and restrictions and cause them worry.”
In other words, in direct contradiction of health officials, the interior minister believes that fewer than 2.5 million Iranians out of a population of 83 million have contracted coronavirus. Furthermore, his comments are an implicitl dismissal of their significance. In July, President Rouhani said that, according to the latest estimates at the time, about 25 million Iranians had been infected with coronavirus.
Lockdowns in many cities across in Iran remain in place. Some have described the restrictions as “extensive,” while others have dismissed them as “half-hearted.” The three main pillars of these lockdowns, as mandated by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, are a traffic curfew from 9pm to 4am to reduce the number of nighttime gatherings, bans on intercity traffic to reduce travel between hotspots and, most importantly, the lockdown of non-essential businesses from 6pm until the morning.
The daily number of fatalities from Covid-19 are down from over 400 per day, and photographs taken of streets and alleyways in Iran’s cities show that, on the whole, people are following the guidelines issued by the coronavirus taskforce. However, some businesses continue their operations once they have lowered their shutters, while others simply ignore the warnings, perhaps to make ends meet. Nevertheless, officials continue to reiterate that the lockdowns are temporary and people should follow the guidelines for another week, if only to keep themselves safe.
According to the latest statements by members of Tehran City Council, the number of fatalities have been falling but the number of visits to medical centers by people with coronavirus symptoms is still on the rise. The decline in the number of fatalities shows that “restrictions have been effective…but we must not forget that the situation is not normal,” tweeted Ali E’ta, spokesman for Tehran City Council.
In recent weeks the number of coronavirus fatalities in Tehran alone was over 150 per day and, according to some sources, it even reached 200 but, according to provincial officials, this number has fallen to around 130 in recent days.
Saeed Khal, the CEO of Tehran’s Behesht Zahar Cemetery Organization, reported that 10,000 “special” graves have been prepared for coronavirus fatalities in Tehran. He also reported that, as of November 30, 160 employees and and people who work for his organization have been infected with coronavirus but all, apart from a few who are in quarantine, have recovered and returned to work.
In the 24-hour period spanning November 29 and November 30, 42 new coronavirus cases were confirmed and nine Covid-19 patients died in Hamedan province, bringing the total death toll in the province to 1,250. During the same time period 471 outpatients attended medical centers in the province and, out of this number, 72 were hospitalized in common wards and 25 in ICUs. According to Dr. Mohammad Taheri, spokesman for Hamedan’s Ibn Sina University of Medical Sciences, gatherings and crowds have been the major factors in spreading the virus.
Mehrdad Naderifar, spokesman for Hamedan Coronavirus Taskforce, announced that all universities in the province had been closed and classes must be conducted online only. He also announced that all non-essential branches of government offices had been closed and only the directors and their deputies will report to the office in person.
During the last week, the traffic between and within cities in Mazandaran province has been restricted and there is now talk that these restrictions might be extended for another week. “As of now, 14,000 vehicles were turned back,” reported Alireza Ghadami, commander of Mazandaran’s Highway Police. He also reported that in 750 cases, drivers were fined between 500,000 and one million tomans ($121-$242). People driving vehicles between the hours of 9pm and 4am were fined 200,000 tomans ($48).
Currently, 873 patients with coronavirus symptoms are in hospitals run by Mazandaran and Babol universities of medical sciences.
In the last 24 hours in Alborz 11 more people with coronavirus died, bringing the total Covid-19 death toll in the province to 2,308, according to Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. Fathi said in the last 24 hours, 83 more people with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized and now 807 people with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 are hospitalized across the province.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for November 30, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
Dr. Lari also reported that all 31 Iranian provinces are in red, orange or yellow states of alert.