by Dr. Ali Mohseni (March 12, 2020)
The respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV” and then COVID-19) which was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, has now spread to 109 countries with 111,650 confirmed cases and 3884 deaths. The second round of infection with COVID-19 was reportedly associated with travel from Wuhan. Infections are being reported in a growing numbers of locations, including in the United States, with the hardest hit countries after China being Italy and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The holy city of Qom in Iran has become the epicenter of this contagious disease — radiating out to 34 provinces in Iran as well as to 11 other countries in the region and beyond. The official government report indicates 7161 confirmed cases and 237 deaths, however non-governmental reports puts the number of confirmed cases at 15000 and deaths at 1143 cases. Chinese scientists recently reported that the coronavirus isolated from Chinese patients were of 2 distinct strains. Strain L, which is the more virulent of the two, and Strain S, which causes milder symptoms. However Iran’s Minister of Health and Human services announced the strain of COVID-19 isolated from patients in Iran was genetically somewhat different from the original strain in China.
According to official and unofficial reports, the Islamic Republic of Iran was aware of the coronavirus epidemic long before the congressional election and choose not to acknowledge it, fearing voter anger. To cover it up, the government decided to disregard all protocols and procedures of the World Health Organization that could have prevented the spread of virus throughout the nation. Conversely, they tried hard to evacuate the top echelons of religious seminaries, high governmental officials, and key governmental management from the outbreak hot spot, Qom, to coronavirus-free, safe locations. To make matters worse, the Islamic Republic of Iran never restricted or placed a travel ban on flights to and from China. As a matter of fact, Iranian airlines were ordered to provide transportation to all Chinese citizens abandoned around the world and bring them to Iran! No wonder that the Chinese government demanded that US drop sanctions against Iran the next day.
This has resulted in tens of thousands of confirmed cases and over 1500 deaths. Was this a deliberate attempt to facilitate the spread of the deadly virus to endanger the lives of Iranian citizens for political purposes and made at the highest level of IRI government as has been rumored?
The vast majority of the Iranian people plus more and more people around the world are becoming convinced that the end of the coronavirus epidemic will mark the end of the regime in Iran. What is happening today in Iran is the consequence of the regime’s inaction and mismanagement. They had no a preventive strategy to fight off the COVID-19 epidemic. Continuation of the current crises management by the IRI will most likely result in worsening the epidemic and result in the death of tens of thousands more people in Iran and in the region.
Dr. Ali Mohseni is an Iranian-American grassroots political activist.