Iran coronavirus
Iran coronavirusiStock

If new data released by the Iranian opposition in exile are correct Iran has overtaken the United States, Spain, and Italy as the country hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Iran is “the epicenter of coronavirus and its expansion to the world,” the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) wrote on its website while publishing the latest data about COVID-19 victims.

More than 25.000 Iranians have already died after contracting the coronavirus according to the Iranian opposition and on Saturday NCRI reported an increase in coronavirus deaths of 1.900 in a single day.

Dr. Massoud Mardani, a member of Iran's National Influenza Committee said at the beginning of March that by the end of that month Iran’s capital Tehran would see 30 to 40 percent of its population infected with COVID-19. He seems to hve been right according to testimonies of Iranians who visited or were treated in hospitals across the city of 12 million.

The Washington Post obtained Iranian hospital records dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and spoke with 19 Iranians who were hospitalized with COVID-19 or had a family member treated for coronavirus symptoms in a hospital in Tehran.

From the medical records of 56 hospitals in Tehran, WaPolearned that of 5.500 patients, roughly half tested positive for Corona in a three-week period between the end of February and the middle of March.

Iranians reported “many families losing dear ones” and “total panic and chaos” in the hospitals in Tehran.

A 50-year-old farmer from a village near Tehran took his sick father home after being shocked by what was going on in the Tehran hospital where his dad had tested positive for coronavirus without the son knowing about it.

Another sick Iranian was sent home because of overcrowding in a hospital in Tehran despite severe complications that forced the man to undergo kidney dialysis every few days.

Almost all Iranians who spoke to WaPo said the Islamist regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hadn’t reacted adequately to the coronavirus outbreak and is obscuring the real scope of the disaster.

“Everything that happened in the past week should have been done 40 days ago, two months ago. It has been too late. Maybe it was because of (the anniversary of) Iran’s revolution, maybe because of the election. (Both were in February). Nobody knows why they waited so long to take these actions,” one of the interviewed Iranians said.

On March 14, the Ara-Asra Research Center, a think-tank close to Khamenei, released a report that instead of dealing with effective new measures to stem the tsunami of COVID-19 cases in Iran, dealt with the narrative about the crisis.

The think-tank advised introducing the term “biological or medical terrorism” and branding Iran as a victim of an international plot aimed overthrowing the Mullah regime.

“The role of general diplomacy in managing the current threat is highly important. In this regard, a package of action to block the regional spread of the coronavirus and defending country’s prestige at the international level, seem important and vital,” the report stated.

To stave off domestic and international criticism about the way the Khamenei regime is dealing with the Corona disaster the authors of the report advised highlighting the “extraterritorial nature of the coronavirus.”

As I wrote last week, the regime implemented most of the recommendations of the Ara-Asra Research Center and started to blame the US sanctions against Iran for the Corona crisis.

It may even be that Khamenei and his cohorts did not act promptly to contain the coronavirus outbreak in order to create chaos and mayhem, because they are influenced by their Shiite ‘end of days’ vision. According to this vision, the COVID-19 crisis is a sign that judgment day is rapidly approaching and the hidden and awaited twelfth Imam Mahdi will soon reappear.

This Shiite messiah will set up a new Persian empire with the Iraqi capital Baghdad as its capital, from where Mahdi will eventually rule over the whole world.

Before the reappearance of the Mahdi, who disappeared at the age of five in the year 879, there must be two disasters one called the ‘red death’ and the second called the ‘white death’.

The 'red death' is a war or a series of wars while the 'white death' is a plague, a disease that kills multitudes of people.

Mohammad-Hadi Homayoun, an official of the Revolutionary Guard's Imam Sadeq University said during an interview on Iranian state-television that he was almost sure the Corona crisis is the 'white death' of the Mahdi vision.

"The coronavirus pandemic is definitely a sign of the reappearance of the Imam in Occultation even if it is not the White Death foretold (by the sacred tradition). It will prepare the scene for it anyway,” Homayoun said.

Khamenei himself, meanwhile, also seemed to hint at the Mahdi scenario when he told Lebanese students to prepare for a better world “full of security, humanity and morality.”

“Prepare yourselves for a better future and to establish a new world full of security, humanity, and morality,” Khamenei told the students while adding that “education, faith, and piety are the real munitions of the human being.

"Start ingraining them in your souls," the aging Iranian leader encouraged the Lebanese students.

The United States, meanwhile, rejected Iran’s request for a $5 billion IMF emergency loan to combat the COVID-19 crisis better.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran had sufficient financial resources to combat the virus outbreak on its own and said the Trump Administration is “against allocating any loan to Iran.”

Yochanan Visser is Arutz Sheva' s Middle East correspondent.