Iran regime most likely ‘to blame’ for coronavirus spread in Iran: US State Dept
“If anyone is to blame for the rapid spread of coronavirus in Iran, it is the Iranian regime itself,” a US State Department spokesperson told US weekly news magazine Newsweek on Tuesday.
The number of coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, fatalities in Iran increased to 15 on Tuesday, making it the most deadly epicenter for the disease outside of China. The Health Ministry added that the number of infected people has increased to 95.
Iraj Harirchi, the country’s deputy minister for health, announced that he has been infected with coronavirus earlier on Tuesday. The news was followed by an announcement from Iranian member of parliament Mahmoud Sadeghi that he too has tested positive for the deadly virus.
“The regime is notorious for lying to its people, even at great risk to their safety and well-being,” the State Department spokesperson said.
“We saw this when the regime repeatedly lied and sought to cover up its grievous error in the shootdown of a civilian Ukrainian airliner in January, killing all 176 people onboard, including many Iranian citizens.”
There have been allegations that Iranian authorities are not accurately reporting the number of figures in the country. Using global estimates, which place the death rate per symptomatic case in the range of 1 to 2 percent, the number of infected in the country could be as high as 1,500, Dr. Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University said on Tuesday.
“There are widespread reports that regime officials acted to conceal accurate information about this current outbreak,” the spokesperson added.
Countries across the region have already begun to break travel links with Iran. Eleven countries have closed their air and land borders to the Islamic Republic, including the vast majority of its neighbors.
The number of global infected currently stands at just over 81,000, with a death toll of over 2,700.