Dozens of deaths reported in Iran due to coronavirus

Iranians fear their government isn't reporting full extent of the virus and that hundreds may have already contracted the deadly disease.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ali Khameni
Ali Khameni

According to various reports, dozens of people have died in the city of Qom, Iran following the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Arutz Sheva interviewed Roy Kahanovich, researcher at the Azrieli Center and author of "Iran and the Persian Gulf" about Iran's treatment of the virus as well as the impact its had on the country's economy and other areas of life.

Kahanovich said that most of the details regarding the coronavirus remain obscured from the outside world and that every day fresh reports have surfaced about another country where people have been infected and even died of the disease.

"In Iran, the virus has spread and while only a few deaths have been reported so far, available data indicates that the virus has already claimed a few dozen patients in the city of Qom alone. Information about the virus is very vague and it's difficult to make an assessment of what exactly is going on there."

Kahanovich notes that Iran's sealing its borders with Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq due to widespread fear of infection serves as a strong indication of the extent of the virus.

"Above all, the Iranian concern is that the virus will affect the economy, [resulting in] investments that will not reach a country already mired in financial distress."

"The regime is claiming that the low percentages in the last parliamentary elections held on February 21 are a direct result of [panic caused by the] virus."

Kahanovich says he doubts the virus is the actual cause of the low voter turnout and that a more likely culprit is a general feeling of disgust many - especially amongst the younger generation – feel for the regime. He says the politicians are just using the virus as an excuse.

"The interest in the issue stems from the Iranian Deputy Minister of Health, the representative of the health system, being infected with the virus himself, but the infection can strike anywhere," Kahanovich says.

"The health system in Iran is very problematic. It's very outdated and the big concern there and in similar countries that do not possess advanced health systems is having to deal with a virus that requires relatively sophisticated respiratory systems."

Regarding the prospects of Iran requesting aid from the international community while ignoring concerns for its security threats, Kahanovich says that, "As far as we're aware, they are in no hurry to ask for help, despite it being offered to them. For now, the Iranian people are asking questions based on natural and understandable concerns, but "the answers are vague," says Kahanovich, referring to past incidents which raised questions about the regime.

"In the case of the Ukrainian passenger plane [that was shot down accidentally by the Iranian army] everything [the regime was saying] was false, and the truth emerged only after public pressure was applied. In Iran, things take a long time. [The regime] is trying to understand what's going on and whether they should turn to other countries for help. This is an event that caught on in Iran just 3-4 days ago and in the meantime, it's difficult to determine the facts. They don't know how many people have been infected, or how many have died."

Kahanovich reiterates that the greatest Iranian concern is the damage to the economy especially in light of the hardships that have begun to plague the rogue state following sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, the drought and recent street protests organized by young people hoping for a brighter future.