Iran says death toll from coronavirus much lower than reported 200 figure
At least 210 people have died of coronavirus in Iran, the BBC reported, citing sources in the country’s health system, far more than the figure maintained by the government in Tehran.
According to the network’s sources, most of the deaths have come from Tehran and the city of Qom, where the virus was first found in the country.
Iran’s Health Ministry on Saturday updated its death toll for the virus to 43, saying that 593 have been infected with the virus.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that the government was being fully transparent and accused the BBC of lying about the figures.
“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 43,” he told state TV, according to Reuters.
Even that figure would mean Iran has suffered from the most coronavirus-related deaths outside mainland China, where the outbreak began.
The BBC’s report comes after a member of parliament for Qom accused the Iranian government of covering up the reality of the virus in Iran.
The U.S. has also been wary of the accuracy of the reports on the virus coming from the country and pledged on Friday to help support Iran amid the outbreak.
“The United States stands with the people of Iran during the public health crisis caused by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The U.S. Government is prepared to assist the Iranian people in their response efforts,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
“This offer of support to the Iranian people, which has been formally conveyed to Iran through the Government of Switzerland, underscores our ongoing commitment to address health crises and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Supporting the Iranian people is and will remain among our top priorities,” he added.
Pompeo called on Iran to “cooperate fully and transparently with international aid and health organizations” as the virus continues to spread worldwide.
On Friday, the World Health Organization raised its coronavirus risk assessment to “very high” but said the outbreak has yet to become a global pandemic.
There are more than 85,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide and almost 3,000 deaths — the vast majority from mainland China, where the outbreak originated.