US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the United States was “deeply concerned” Iran may have covered up details about the spread of coronavirus, and he called on all nations to “tell the truth.”
“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo told reporters.
The Iranian government has officially recorded 95 cases in the country, with 15 dead. However, Iranian member of parliament Ahmad Amirabadi Farhani said on Monday that 50 people had died in the city of Qom alone and suggested that coronavirus is far more widepsread in Iran than previously thought. Iran's Health Ministry rejected Amirabadi Farhani's number on Monday afternoon, but did up the death toll from eight to 12 on the same day.
One expert said that the number of cases in Iran could be as high as 1,500.
The estimate is based on Iran’s official death toll, which stood at 15 on Tuesday, and the global estimates, which place the death rate per symptomatic case in the range of 1 to 2 percent, according to Dr. Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University.
“If we assume that the rate of death per case is in the same range in Iran that it is elsewhere, then that implies that there are between 750 to 1,500 symptomatic cases in Iran. But that would be making the assumption that the Iranian severity is similar to the severity elsewhere,” said Dr. Lipsitch in an interview with Al Arabiya English, adding that the estimate could be incorrect if the people infected had no access to medical care or if the virus spread in a group of people who were at risk of complications.
Pompeo criticizes Beijing
Secretary of State Pompeo also criticized Beijing for what he characterized as the censorship of media and medical professionals.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID_19, first came emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province.
As of Wednesday morning, 2,715 people had died of the virus in China, with 78,064 cases reported, mostly in the central province of Hubei.
Experts from the World Health Organization have visited Wuhan, which has been completely locked down, said Chinese authorities on Monday.