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Iranian lawmakers say nation's death toll likely double reported figure

Iranian lawmakers say nation's death toll likely double reported figure
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A report from Iran's parliament claims that the country's death toll from coronavirus may be twice as high as is reported due in part to undercounting and insufficient testing.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a report authored by Iran’s parliament research center claims the official death count may be higher than 8,500, with as many as 760,000 cases of the disease in the country.

If true, that would set Iran as the country with the most coronavirus infections anywhere in the world, vaulting it past the U.S. and European countries that have struggled to control the outbreak.

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“In order to have more compatibility between protocol and estimated statistics, it is necessary to increase laboratory and testing capabilities in the country,” the parliamentary report read. “Needless to say that through increasing the capacities, diagnosis of disease will be more possible and spread of the disease will be more limited.”

Officials with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's government have reportedly not commented on the document directly, but a health minister said Wednesday that the country's death count may be higher than reported. The official denied that the count was as high as 8,500.

“The real figures are more than the official statistics but it is not correct to multiply official figures by two or three,” said deputy Health Minister Ali Reza Raisi, according to the AP.

Iranian officials have called on the U.S. to relax economic sanctions against the country amid the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that the measures have prevented Iran from obtaining necessary equipment to fight the virus including personal protective equipment.