A senior US official on Thursday accused Iran of lying to its own people over the extent of the coronavirus outbreak and expressed dismay Tehran had refused an offer of American help.
Brian Hook, the US State Department's envoy on Iran, said Tehran's response to the virus was one reason Iranian authorities were enduring a “crisis of legitimacy.”
“Iran lied to its own people about the coronavirus,” Hook told reporters on a trip to Paris to coordinate policy with Europe.
“It told them it was not anything to worry about but at the same time the virus was spreading throughout Iran.”
“This calamity is not that big of a deal in our view. There have been bigger ones in the past and we have had such cases in this country,” #Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says on the #coronavirus outbreak as Tehran says its death toll jumps to 77.https://t.co/YQkpQeaA5P pic.twitter.com/2LcGreZAKw— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 3, 2020
Iranian authorities have put the death toll from the Covid-19 virus at 107, making it one of the worst-hit countries after China.
“Today as a result of the government's mismanagement and not being transparent with its own people Iran has one of the world's worst outbreaks of the coronavirus,” Hook said.
The US, which has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had offered help to Iran to fight the virus outbreak but Tehran rejected the offer.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has blamed “vicious” US sanctions for depriving Iranians of medication.
“We know there are gaps in their health system, and we wanted to close those gaps,” said Hook. “We wish they had accepted our sincere offer.”