A group of University of Toronto scientists and doctors have published an article offering an estimate that based on Coronavirus cases traveling from Iran to other countries it is statistically possible that 18,000 people are infected in the county.
The research results were published on February 24 based on information available until that date. Researchers focused on volume of travel from Iran to other countries and proven cases of infected people arriving in other countries, such as Lebanon and Canada. Based on statistical models the study says up to 18,000 people might be infected in Iran.
“Given the low volumes of air travel to countries with identified cases of COVID-19 with origin in Iran (such as Canada), it is likely that Iran is currently experiencing a COVID-19 epidemic of significant size for such exportations to be occurring”, the research paper says.
So far, the Iranian government has announced only 95 cases and 16 deaths. This ratio raises questions about the reliability of official figures issued by the government. Sixteen fatalities mean that Iran has at least a few hundred cases of infected patients. In addition, many citizen reports speak of dozens of deaths. Also, a member of parliament claimed February 24 that only in his constituency 50 people had died of the virus.
Iran admitted having COVID-19 cases on February 19, the same day two people were officially announced dead because of the virus. This raised questions of a government cover-up or lack of timely reporting about the spread of the disease.