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Researchers doubt validity of official numbers of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in Iran

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Editing: Mohamad Alaa |
TranslationEditor: Glory Jabr |
Translation: Nouha Salti

Iranian researchers doubt the validity of official numbers announced by the Iranian Health Ministry of cases and death due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to the BBC, Iranian researchers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech, developed a model that simulates the spread of the disease. It uses data on infected Iranian travelers who tested positive at the point of entry to other countries, as well as numerous medical community estimates, to calculate what they say is a more accurate figure.

They estimated that, as of 20 March, more than 15,000 people had lost their lives and the number of infections could actually have been closer to one million. That is 10 times the official figures, which by that day was 1,433 deaths and just under 20,000 confirmed cases.

In some cases, the bodies of multiple victims are, instead of being put in individual graves, being placed side by side in long trench-like burial sites - unheard of in this part of the world, according to the researchers.

A doctor from the Mazandaran region of northern Iran, told the BBC that public safety experts had been dispatched to monitor the process of enshrouding, burying and covering the graves with lime, which officials say is used to help disinfect bodies and prevent the spread of the virus.

The doctor said that despite victims' death certificates stating cardiac arrest or the flu as the cause of death, the fact these experts had been dispatched indicated that the cause of death was in fact COVID-19.

Iranian families say they have no information about the whereabouts of their loved ones' bodies. They have been told this will be communicated to them once the crisis is over so they can go to visit the graves of those they have lost.

Religious figures are trying to reassure relatives that their loved ones are being treated with respect and are being buried with all the correct Islamic rites.

On Thursday, Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpur, said that 1,606 tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number to 77,995.

On Dec. 31, 2019, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has infected about 1,950,000 people until April 16, 2020 in more than 210 countries, about 135,000 of them died, according to the (Worldometer).

COVID-19 is an infectious disease, caused by SARS-CoV-2, that spreads from person-to-person and by respiratory droplets. These droplets fall on surrounding surfaces, so other people could be infected when they touch these surfaces by touching their eyes, noses, or mouths. People could be infected if they inhale droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it is important to keep a one-meter distance (three feet) away from infected people.

Infection symptoms include body aches, blocked nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. The symptoms begin as mild and develop gradually. Some people become infected without showing any symptoms and without feeling ill. About 80% of infected people recover from the disease without any special treatment.