Medical officials in Iran's Khuzestan Province say coronavirus is spreading at an alarming rate in the oil-rich southwestern province despite the epidemic having slowed down in some other regions of the country.
The Spokesman of Jondishapoor Medical University of Ahwaz on Thursday said 178 new cases were identified since Wednesday, with the total number of cases in the province of 4.7 million now close to 4,000.
"Currently there are 483 patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals and the number of cases is rising," Dr. Ali Ehsanpoor was quoted by Borna News Agency as saying.
The Head of Razi Hospital of Ahwaz, Dr. Farhang Karehbandi, on Thursday also warned about the alarming situation in Khuzestan. According to Dr. Karebandi now half of all people going to the hospital's emergency rooms need to be hospitalized whereas the number of in-patients in normal circumstances should be one-fifth or one-sixth of all emergency room patients.
According to Dr. Karehbandi 60 patients with acute respiratory symptoms are currently in the hospital's intensive care unit. "The disease is powerfully infiltrating the province," he said.
Officials have not disclosed the COVID-19 death toll in the province. According to the latest official statement on Thursday with the identification of 1,485 new cases in the country since Wednesday, the total number of cases in Iran since February 19 has reached 103,135. Since Wednesday 68 more COVID-19 patients have died in Iran pushing the death toll up to 6,486.
Official numbers announced daily by the health ministry are met with skepticism by many who say that with limited testing, many cases go unreported and many deaths are registered as pneumonia. Consecutive investigations conducted by Radio Farda in March and April did reveal a big discrepancy between what the ministry was reporting and what a compilation of local media reports and statements by hospital officials indicated.
The statistics from the Ministry of Health on the number of casualties are published daily. However, the National Organization for Civil Registration has not published the overall number of deaths for the country in the winter quarter. A spokesman of the organization admitted on May 5 that the agency had not disclosed the figures for the winter quarter at the request of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce.