MP Accuses Iran Government of Coronavirus Coverup as Toll Rises
A lawmaker from Iran's Qom on Monday accused the government of covering up the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak in the city.
In the report by the semi-official news agency ISNA, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani accused Iran's health minister of "lying" about the outbreak, which authorities say has killed 12 people in Iran.
The ILNA news agency, which is close to reformists, said the lawmaker spoke of "50 deaths" in Qom alone.
Fears grew on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will turn into a pandemic with disruptive and deadly consequences for countries around the world, after sharp rises in infections in several states, including Iran.
Authorities in Iran have closed schools across much of the country for a second day and as neighboring countries reported infections from travelers from Iran, prompting several to shut their borders to Iranian citizens.
The number of deaths compared to the number of confirmed infections from the virus is higher in Iran than in any other country as compared to the ratios in China and South Korea, where the outbreak is far more widespread.
Farahani, was quoted by ILNA saying that more than 250 people are in quarantine in Qom.
He said the 50 deaths date as far back as Feb. 13. Iran, however, first officially reported cases of the virus and its first deaths on Feb. 19.
But Iran's government pledged to be transparent with its figures on the deadly outbreak.
"We will announce any figures (we have) on the number of deaths throughout the country. We pledge to be transparent about the reporting of figures," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a news conference aired live on state television.