Data exclusively collected by Radio Farda show that at least 927 have died of Covid-19 in thirty out of 31 provinces of Iran.
The data is based on dispersed official comments made by provincial authorities, the sources affiliated with the Ministry of Health (MH) of the Islamic Republic, and local news agency reports.
However, the official death toll announced by a central authority in Iran put the number at 237 as of March 9. Citizens, several politicians and commentators say the official number is simply too low and many more have succumbed to the virus.
Meanwhile, Radio Farda's sources at the Ministry of Health say that the novel coronavirus has killed at least 173 just in the province of Tehran.
Nonetheless, the government has so far refrained from publishing any figures related to the number of victims in the province.
And it is not just Tehran. The central authority in charge of announcing coronavirus casualty numbers has so far also refused to say how many have died in Qom Province, the epicenter of the epidemic. The reason behind the secrecy could be the high number of victims in the two neighboring regions.
Furthermore, the nationwide official number of 237, which does not include Tehran and Qom, is not broken down and it is not clear how many have died in different provinces.
However, from public statements by officials and data released by local hospitals, Radio Farda has determined that 200 people have died in the northern province of Gilan alone. In Qom at least 120 people have died and in Isfahan 103. These figures combined with a breakdown of numbers from Iran’s 31 provinces, brings the estimated total figure to 927.
Meanwhile, several members of Majles (Islamic parliament) have repeatedly noted that the data provided by the health ministry are much lower than the actual number of Covid-19 victims.
The ministry has officially banned provincial health authorities from presenting any data on the number of people who have died of the novel coronavirus.
The data collected by Radio Farda represent the minimum number of casualties, while the real number is much higher.
Most of the victims are from the Province of Tehran, and its neighboring region, Qom, the capital of the Shi'ites' seminaries in Iran.
"This outbreak could still go in any direction," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.
The Islamic Republic officially admitted its first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infections on February 19, 2020 in Qom.
As of 9 March 2020, Iran has the third-highest number of COVID-19 deaths after China and Italy, the highest in Western Asia and the fourth-highest number of SARS-CoV-2 cases, surpassed by only Mainland China, Italy and South Korea.
World Health Organization officials have described the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Iran as "very worrisome."