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Iran concealing accurate Covid-19 statistics, reveals leaked data

An official of Keyvan Virology Laboratory takes a sample from a man as people arrive to have Covid-19 test due to rises in coronavirus cases in Tehran, Iran on July 14, 2020. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]
An official of Keyvan Virology Laboratory takes a sample from a man as people arrive to have Covid-19 test due to rises in coronavirus cases in Tehran, Iran on July 14, 2020. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]

Iran has been concealing the number of Covid-19 deaths during the pandemic, leaked data has revealed. The accurate figure is almost three times that which the government claims, investigators claim.

According to official statistics from the Ministry of Health, up to 20 July 14,405 people have died in the country from Covid-19. That figure differs from the government’s own records by almost 42,000 deaths. Moreover, the “official” statistics claim that 278,800 have had the virus, whereas the actual number is 451,024.

The data was sent to the BBC by an anonymous source. It contains the details of daily admissions to hospitals within Iran, including the patients’ names, symptoms, length of stay in hospital and any underlying conditions. Some of those listed included survivors and deceased patients already known to the broadcaster.

The striking difference between the official figures and the data revealed comes amid suspicions that the Iranian government is concealing the true number of infections and deaths. Many observers have noticed irregularities in previous data and come up with alternative estimates.

READ: The Arab states need to be completely honest about coronavirus

Iran is not the only country in which official figures have been inaccurate and misleading, but is also one of many around the world where the lack of testing capacity and doubts over the virus being the cause of death are common.

In Iran’s case, however, the leaked information shows that the government has reported significantly lower numbers of daily deaths despite having up-to-date records on hand. This suggests that the true statistics have been suppressed deliberately.

Since the start of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East. Government officials have tested positive and some have died.

Late last month, President Hassan Rouhani admitted that the situation was much more serious than previously thought. He said that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the virus, and another 35 million are at risk. Iranian health officials, however, downplayed Rouhani’s statement and said that it was inaccurate.

READ: One person is dying of COVID-19 every seven minutes in Iran

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