Iran Deaths From Virus May Be Triple Official Tally, BBC Reports

The number of fatalities from coronavirus in Iran may have been almost three times larger than official counts, the BBC’s Persian news service said in a report based on data from an unidentified person close to the Iranian authorities.

The pandemic may have killed as many as 42,000 Iranians by July 21 compared with some 14,000 deaths reported by the Health Ministry by that time, the report said. More than 450,000 people had contracted the virus in that period, the person said. The state tally stood at 279,000.

The BBC said the data was sent anonymously and that it couldn’t verify whether the sender works for an Iranian government body, or identify the means by which the data was accessed. But the details on lists correspond to those of some living and deceased patients already known to the BBC, it said.

Iran’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari denied the claim of a cover-up, stressing the government had been “fully transparent” in reporting Covid-19 data, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iran has suffered the Middle East’s worst coronavirus death toll at 17,190 from more than 309,000 cases, according to the latest official data. The pandemic has worsened considerably since the government eased restrictions on businesses and travel in April.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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