Iran unveils Soleimani statue in city with highest coronavirus deaths

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Iran unveiled a statue of slain commander Qassem Soleimani in the Iranian city of Bandar Anzali in the Gilan province, where the death toll from the novel coronavirus has reportedly reached its peak.

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Social media users shared images of the statue on Twitter, expressing anger of the regime’s willingness to spend resources on building the statue to commemorate the general, who was killed in US airstrikes in Iraq on January 3, rather than on medical resources to combat the outbreak.

The Iranian government has reported 9,000 infections and 354 deaths from the virus so far. However, experts and some public officials have consistently cast doubt on the official numbers. An analysis by The Atlantic magazine put the estimated number of people infected in Iran at 2 million.

It is likely Iranian officials don’t know the actual number of infected people, according to Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University’s School of Public Health.

Iran’s coronavirus “numbers have changed drastically and there is not much transparency” he told Al Arabiya English in an interview.

Earlier this week, Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani, the health minister’s representative in Gilan, said that more than 200 have died in the province alone.

Video footage circulating on social media on Sunday showed a man, who was suspected of having coronavirus, in the northern city of Rasht collapsed on the ground outside of a hospital that denied him entry due to a shortage of space.

According to Ghorbani, Gilan does not have the appropriate infrastructure to counter the coronavirus outbreak.

Some hospitals in Iran have reached capacity and new patients have been told to wait or simply denied entrance.

Outside of Iran, the Middle East has a total of more than 800 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with most of the initial cases in the region stemming from travel to Iran.

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