Iran poised to trigger coronavirus ‘catastrophe’ while still blaming Trump for outbreak

As fears over a coronavirus pandemic rise, concerns over Iran are increasing too. Tehran has been accused of being inaccurate over the real number of people in its country who have contracted the deadly disease, and not reacting quickly enough as the virus spreads across the Middle Eastern nation, where no restrictions have been made on movement. Sources told BBC Persian today that at least 210 patients in Iran died from coronavirus, although the authorities claim the official death toll is only 34.

The Iranian ministry has rejected the BBC claims, yet both members of parliament within the country and other nations are worried the disease could spiral out of control unless Iran acts.

Writing in a Washington Post earlier this week, reporter Jason Rezaian said: “This Islamic Republic of Iran’s inept and dishonest response to the initial outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus is exacerbating an already dangerous station.

“Now it is arguable threatening to spark a regional epidemic as well.”

He continued to explain how this could lead to a “catastrophe”: “Iran’s biggest problem is lack of accountability. Nothing is ever anyone’s fault.

“There’s always someone else to who blame can be shifted.

“Predictably, some Iranian officials are already blaming the outbreak on a plot by the US.”

Mohammad Saeedi, who is Qom’s Friday prayer leader, said: “The enemy wants to install fear in people’s heart, make Qom look like an unsafe city and to take revenge for all its defeats.

“Trump will die frustrated in his wish to see Qom defeated.”

Mr Saeedi implied the outbreak was President Trump’s way of carrying out his threat from last month to take out the Iranian cultural sites in the back and forth dispute triggered by the death of Qassem Soleimani.

He claimed Mr Trump had reacted because Iran took revenge after the death of the military commander by attacking US army bases in Iraq.

In the meantime, the US has been raising concerns over the nation’s reaction to coronavirus.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a congressional committee last Friday, and said: “We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help.

“Their healthcare infrastructure is not robust and to date, their willingness to share information about what’s really going on inside. Iran has not been robust.”

The country’s Vice President is one of seven Iranian officials to be diagnosed with coronavirus too and one cleric has died from the disease.

There have been 388 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran: 128 in Tehran, 88 in Qom – which neighbours the capital – and 65 in the border state of Gilan.

However, health experts have said there are likely to be more cases than that, considering the numbers providing by Iran suggest a fatality rate of 20 percent while the World Health Organisation claimed the fatality rate is two percent.

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A member of parliament within Iran has claimed the government is not being transparent either recently, and the US has raised concerns over the reality of the country’s health.

James Gallagher told the BBC’s ‘Beyond Today’ podcast earlier this week that “the real concern now is probably Iran, where we are already seeing cases – that’s probably the weakest healthcare system we’ve had cases in so far”.

In his Washington Post article, Mr Rezaian said: “The rapid spread of the virus is spiralling out of control.

“Iranian authorities are not fully accepting their responsibility to address it, while also obscuring their efforts to contain it.”

Infections within the country had been reported from February 13, but officials dismissed concerns over coronavirus, claiming the patients had not travelled to China.

Mr Rezaian continued: “As the Iranian state continues denies the severity of the outbreak, Iran’s neighbours are closing their borders.

“Turkey, Armenia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all done so. 

“Azerbaijan, a key trading partner that shares a long land border with Iran, has advised its citizens against traveling there.

“Georgia has suspended all flights in and out of Iran. Flights from Iran to China, meanwhile, continue.”

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