In an unprecedented admission, Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said, “We have lost control of the coronavirus.” In his interview with the state-run TV Channel Six on April 4, the Health Minister acknowledged that four deans of medical sciences universities had contracted the UK strain of Covid-19. “We have currently lost the control of the ‘outlaw rogue’ Covid-19. It is unclear when we can once again bring the triple-digit number of deaths below the triple-digit numbers. I do not know,” Namaki added.
Furthermore, on April 5, the official IRNA news agency quoted Namaki as saying, “We are confronting one of the heaviest waves of the coronavirus. The health apparatus faces challenging days.”
“Through a videoconference with deans of medical sciences universities before the Nowruz holidays, I underscored that they must severely attempt to control the UK strain of the coronavirus. All of them were ready. However, no one, unfortunately, heard my words about travels, and today, we face very heavy trouble,” Namaki added.
He implicitly pointed to the government’s untransparent policies over the health crisis, which have led Iran to become the worst-hit country in the Middle East. “We could have avoided this stage. What happened in the Khuzestan province showed us that the management of this virus is a hard and difficult job. Difficulties of the medical and health staff of Khuzestan were much tougher and heavier than all of the 12-month efforts across the country. In fact, if three waves like what happened in Khuzestan were imposed, the entire health apparatus would collapse,” he said.
Namaki’s ministry is the foremost responsible department for losing control of Covid-19. In the past year, Iran’s Health Ministry has perplexed citizens with contradictory claims and fabricated statistics about the coronavirus. For instance, according to health officials, 63,160 citizens have lost their lives to Covid-19 as of April 4, while health professionals had already challenged the ministry’s death toll.
“The current stats of the coronavirus illness are 20 times higher than what is being announced by the Health Ministry… To this day, only six percent of the patients infected with COVID-19 have been identified across the country,” said Mohammad Reza Mahboub-Far, a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force, on April 28, 2020.
According to the Iranian opposition’s statement, “Over 243,300 people have died of the novel coronavirus in 533 cities checkered across all of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to reports tallied by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) as of Sunday afternoon local time, April 4.”
On the other hand, the government’s disastrous policies in the term of procuring reliable vaccines have put more fatalities on the horizon. “Delays and backwardness of the vaccination process in the country, which has yet to reach one percent, in comparison to the percentage of vaccinated people in many countries—even developing ones—are unacceptable for public opinion,” said head of Tehran City Council Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani in an interview with IRNA on April 4.
“Delays in the vaccination would bring much more damages for the health apparatus, economy, education, and society’s general atmosphere, in comparison to the vaccination’s costs,” he added.
Back on January 8, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei prohibited the import of U.S., British, and French Covid-19 vaccines, banning millions of Iranian citizens from vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). While “the death toll is nearing 200,000, but Khamenei says no vaccines could be imported from the U.S., UK, and France. By huge human casualties, he seeks to fend off popular uprisings,” tweeted Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on January 8.