Rouhani Promises to Export Test Kits Despite Severe Shortage in Iran
More than 42,800 people from 319 cities in all 31 provinces in Iran have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a statement released by the MEK on Tuesday, May 19. The regime has only officially confirmed 7,119 deaths, a number which has been widely scrutinized by public health authorities across the world as well officials within the regime. On Tuesday, the regime’s Ministry of Health reported 2,111 new cases, 62 new deaths, and 2,698 critical cases.
The number of deaths reported by the MEK Iran by province includes:
- Khuzestan: 2,980
- Mazandaran: 2,640
- Alborz: 1,645
- Lorestan: 1,210
- Fars: 1.035
- Kurdistan: 790
- North Khorasan: 505
- Zanjan: 503
- Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad: 260
- Other provinces: ~31,232
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) May 19, 2020
Mysterious Test Kits
In April, several prominent physicians and health authorities cautioned that the second wave of coronavirus infections would occur if quarantine restrictions were lifted before the virus was contained. Despite these warnings, regime officials ordered Iranians to return to work in mid-April, and President Hassan Rouhani designated some areas as “white” zones where the virus had been eradicated. As predicted, coronavirus infections and deaths began to rise once more, and regime authorities are struggling to convince the public that the situation is under control, despite all evidence to the contrary.
On Tuesday, Rouhani claimed that Iran does not have “any shortage of special hospital beds and medical facilities and equipment.” He went on to add, “Not only the production of test kits, ventilators and N95 masks meet the country’s domestic needs, but we also have the power to export these products now.”
According to the reference website worldometers.info, Iran has 8,540 testing kits per 1 million people. In comparison, Germany has 37,584 tests per 1 million people. Each country has a population of just under 84 million and has reported similar numbers of cases (although, as noted above, Iran’s numbers have been widely disputed). Iran has the lowest number of testing kits out of all countries of its size that have reported more than 15,000 cases. It ranks below Turkey, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. It also ranks below almost every other country of the similar population without a significant number of infections, including the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Belarus, Greece, and Switzerland, although testing kits are more urgently needed where outbreaks are severe.
If domestic supply had been met, the number of testing kits per million people would have risen dramatically over the past days and weeks. It has not. Public health experts cite failure to test patients as a key factor in the regime’s false coronavirus figures. This leaves two possibilities: either Rouhani is lying about the production of supplies, or he is exporting life-saving medical supplies and equipment out of the country during a deadly pandemic. Given the regime’s track record, either could be true, and both leave the Iranian people without the ability to take measures to safeguard their health and well-being.
A False Narrative
Testing large portions of the population makes sense from a public health perspective, and smart world leaders did this early on. The regime has shown little interest in protecting public health, choosing instead to protect its image. Sick people are not tested unless they are admitted to the hospital, and many patients are never tested at all. Doctors have reported being forced to lie on death certificates so that the regime would not have to report coronavirus deaths. Manufacturing more testing kits for the Iranian people would undermine the regime’s narrative that the virus is under control, particularly now that the economy has reopened.
On Monday, Rouhani’s spokesman Ali Rabiee reinforced this false narrative in an interview with the state-run IRNA news: “We rank third in the world after China and Switzerland in the recovery and treatment of Coronavirus. We have passed the management phase and controlling the virus phases. Today, we have entered the phase of containing the virus.”
The virus has not been contained, and even the regime’s officials are contradicting Rouhani now, sometimes daily. Members of the regime’s Coronavirus Combat Task Force regularly call out Rouhani’s statements as untrue, and university physicians frequently appear on state-run media to warn about the dangers of the regime’s coronavirus policies.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) announced this afternoon, May 19, 2020, that Coronavirus has taken the lives of more than 42,800 in 319 cities across #Iran.https://t.co/lf8itBum67#MEK #Covid_19 #COVID19 #coronavirus @USAdarFarsi
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) May 20, 2020
On Tuesday, Dr. Mohammad-Reza Mahboubfar, a member of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce (NCCT), issued a grim warning on Setareh Sobh. “In summer and fall this year, we will witness the third and the fourth wave of the virus in the country, which will have greater fatalities and consequences,” he said. “No such thing as a white zone exists. Not providing the actual figures will cause the people not taking the virus seriously in a large part of society… We predicted that the second wave would begin, and it happened. The second wave was only because of relaxing restrictions … Officials were more preoccupied with social unrest and the economic consequences of the virus…. In our country, a significant number of medical personnel lost their lives and were ranked first in this respect,” he added.
The regime has attempted to suppress factual information about the coronavirus by arresting ordinary doctors, nurses, and journalists. While Rouhani claimed on Tuesday that “coercive force was not used in dealing with the Coronavirus in any way,” on May 9, IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari, head of the State Security Forces (SSF), said, “FATA police (Iranian regime’s Cyber Police) have dealt decisively with those who were spreading rumors in the cyberspace and identified more than 1,300 websites and arrested 320 people,” according to remarks published in the state-run Entekhab daily.
Now the regime faces a dilemma: heads of university medical centers, members of its coronavirus task force, and officials within the Ministry of Health are “spreading rumors,” and state-run media are giving voice to their dissent. At what point will they be subject to arrest? Who will be left to manage the coronavirus response when everyone qualified to do so has spoken against it? Will this be the end of the mullahs’ regime?