From the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, which for a time had the second highest infection rate after China during the early phase of the global pandemic, it was widely believed that authorities there were severely downplaying the true number of cases. But it was also understood the country's already hurting and strained health system would lack for testing and proper care, given also there was a world shortage of test kits.
President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday confirmed much of this prior skepticism toward Iran's official case count. He dropped a bombshell statement which if true means Iran far surpasses America's case count (at over 3.6 million), currently the most infected country in the world.
Rouhani said a whopping 25 million Iranians have likely been infected with the coronavirus, in the first such statement of its kind affirming that Iran's true numbers are far higher than the official current figure of 271,606.
His office did admit, however, that his 25 million figure is an "estimated scenario". If this estimate is anywhere near accurate, it would mean Iran infections alone would surpass the global total of over 14 million.
Given the Islamic Republic's total population is at 80 million people, this would mean about 1 in 3 citizens in Iran have contracted the virus.
In his statement during a televised speech he further said 35 million are at risk of contracting the virus. He cited this as the rationale for rolling out new shutdown and restriction measures in Tehran and across the country.
He said, as cited in Reuters:
“Our estimate is that until now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Mr Rouhani said in the speech. “There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk.”
He said more than 200,000 people had been hospitalized and that the ministry expected that number to double in the coming months.
His new shutdown orders include a new one week lockdown on the Iranian capital and many other cities, which includes a ban on all public events and spaces where crowds gather, including schools, restaurants, pools and even religious functions.
#BREAKING— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) July 18, 2020
25 million Iranians have contracted the novel #coronavirus, says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The world's most advanced countries have a death rate of over two percent.
That would equal to around 500,000 Covid-19 deaths across #Iran. pic.twitter.com/dEFd5H4xtO
This also includes lockdowns of 22 cities and towns especially areas in the hard-hit southwest of the country.
The Health Ministry currently reports a total of 13,979 deaths, but if actual COVID-19 total infections are really anywhere near 25 million, its likely the true death count is far higher as well.