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Iran Coronavirus Deaths Three Times More Than Official Figures - BBC Documents

Morgue in Tehran where coronavirus victims' bodies are washed before burial. FILE PHOTO
Morgue in Tehran where coronavirus victims' bodies are washed before burial. FILE PHOTO

A source inside the Iranian government has provided documents to BBC Persian that put Iran's real coronavirus death toll from February to July 21 at 42,000 which is nearly three times more than the official figure of 14,634 for the same period.

The source who could not be named for his safety has sent the Persian-language service of the BBC separate lists for COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations with the purpose of "revealing the truth" and putting an end to "politicizing" the statistics.

BBC Persian has said that they cannot verify the source is really an insider of the Iranian government or the manner of acquiring the information but a team tasked with verifying the contents of the documents through various methods including comparison with other data such as the data available on "excess deaths" has concluded that the information contained in the documents is correct.

"BBC can confirm that the lists include the names and details of individuals who have either died of COVID-19 or with similar symptoms or visited health centers or were hospitalized due to confirmed COVID-19 or similar symptoms.

In addition to first names, the lists include dates, place and duration of hospitalization, physician's name as well as symptoms observed by healthcare workers. Some data including surnames and social security numbers have been removed from the lists provided to the BBC.

The lists contain the names of the victims that died in hospital but not those who died at home or care homes for the elderly outside the healthcare system and hospitals.

On March 31, based on figures released by local officials and media reports an exclusive report by Radio Farda put the number of those who had been hospitalized with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in Iran at over 70,000 people and the death toll at more than 4,700 when the official figures stood at 44,606 and 2,898 respectively.

The Health Ministry only announces the total numbers for the country and refuses to disclose details for individual provinces or the city of Tehran. An advisory report by the research arm of the Iranian Parliament on April 14 estimated that the real number of coronavirus cases in the country could be up to 10 times higher than the cases identified by the Health Ministry and the death toll nearly twice the official figure.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.