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Local Officials In Iran Call For Lockdowns As Coronavirus Infections, Deaths Soar

Mourners wearing face masks and gloves carry the body of former politburo official in the Revolutionary Guard Farzad Tazari, who died Monday after a battle with coronavirus in Tehran, March 10, 2020
Mourners wearing face masks and gloves carry the body of former politburo official in the Revolutionary Guard Farzad Tazari, who died Monday after a battle with coronavirus in Tehran, March 10, 2020

The number of Iranian patients infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) soared during the past day and reached 8,042, and the official death toll climbed to 291 by mid-day Tuesday March 10.

The coroner in Iran has registered 54 new deaths as a result of the coronavirus infection during the past day, and the health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said that the number of cases has risen by 881 since Monday.

However, an investigative report by Radio Farda based on statements made by local officials in various parts of Iran puts the sum total of confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in 30 Iranian provinces at a minimum of 927 as of Monday evening.

In the meantime, the state of emergency in a few cities including Mashhad and Yazd reached a new level as hospitals declared that they do not have any capacity for the admission of new patients.

Officials in Yazd have been declaring a state of red alert for several days now, but no new measures were announced to provide additional help to the city.

Meanwhile, the local governor in Kashan, a city which has been ignored in all official statistics for some reason, have said that until Monday, 88 of the 1,056 coronavirus patients in the city had died.

In parts of the country, including Abadan people took the law into their hands and imposed a lockdown although the government still does not believe in declaring quarantines and shuns the initiative as old-fashioned.

The health ministry spokesman who announces daily infection and fatality figures said at his news conference on Tuesday that the outbreak is still on an ascending course which is going to continue during the coming weeks.

However, he said 2,731 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals. Jahanpur also added that infection rate and death toll have been unusually rising in the province of Mazandaran which is the second worst hit province after Tehran.

According to Health Ministry figures, there are 2,114 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tehran followed by 86 cases in Mazandaran, 618 in Isfahan and 524 in Gilan as the worst affected spots.

Bushehr with 18 cases and Kohkiloyeh and Boyer Ahmad with 11 cases remain the least affected provinces.

All figures announced by the Health Ministry are usually challenged by various sources and generally regarded as an underestimation. However, the health ministry spokesman has branded figures announced outside Iran as "mythical," and blamed visitors from other places for the rise in the number of cases in Khorasan and Mazandaran.

However, he said he did not care if people did not believe the figures he has been giving away on a daily basis. Meanwhile, he also criticized the Iranian media for their "inappropriate choice of words," and "misreporting comments made by officials."

Some local officials have also been challenging health ministry figures. An official in Gilan has said more than 200 have died in the province and another official in Mashad has said 89 have died in that city while the health ministry refuses to give figures for major cities and simply announces overall provincial numbers.

In the meantime, hospitals and medical schools in Semnan and Shahroud have said that they have been ordered by the health ministry not to give away figures to the press.

In another development, local officials in various provinces have called on the government to quarantine badly affected cities in order to curb the spread of the virus.

Bahram Parsaei, an MP for Shiraz, has told the people that due to chaotic decision making in the country, perhaps the people should decide for themselves and take precautionary measures.

Ali Akbari, another lawmaker from Shiraz, also suggested that local officials should not wait for decisions to be made in Tehran. Both of these lawmakers have warned that if decisions are not made about the lockdown, the situation in Fars province could become as worse as Gilan, one of the worst affected areas.

Meanwhile, local officials in Gilan, Mazandaran, Lorestan and other areas have also called for imposing lockdowns on affected areas. These demands are being made while in some provinces officials have reportedly banned the printing of death notices in a bid to hide fatality rates.

In another development Gholamreza Heydari, MP for Tehran, has called for the trial of the clerics who opposed imposing a quarantine on the city of Qom where the outbreak started last month.