Iran Borders Remain Open Despite Covid-19 Spread

Iran, one of several countries worst hit by Covid-19 outside of China, still keeps borders open to travelers; heightening concerns in nearby countries.

Certain regions in the country have been identified as hotspots for having the most number of Covid-19 cases since January, 2020. Yet Iranian authorities have not yet issued lockdown orders to prevent the virus from spreading further. The province of Tehran is said to be the hardest hit, as the latest report coming from the region says the number of confirmed cases has reached 1,945. Other Iranian provinces with large numbers of infection cases include Isfahan with 601, Gilan with 524, Mazandaran with 633 and Qom with 712.

Nearby countries, namely: United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are concerned about Iran’s open borders. Many of the confirmed cases in their respective country are linked to travels in Iran, in connection with work and/or business .

Even making matters worse in the country are the misinformation spread about Covid-19 treatment. IRNA, Iran’s official news agency reported that 16 fatalities linked to the contagion were results of methanol poisoning; spurred by false rumours that directly drinking alcohol (the disinfectant) will protect them against the disease.

Iranian Government Criticized for Suppressing Criticality of Covid-19 in the Country

Last Monday, Kianush Jahanpour, a spokesman for the country’s health ministry said that 40 people infected with the novel coronavirus have died; whilst adding that around 2,400 were able to recover from the disease. Mr. Jahanpour also said the rate by which new cases are occurring has dropped,

However, the health ministry spokesperson’s announcement did not jibe with earlier reports announced Saturday, which stated that about 16,000 have been admitted in hospitals in major cities; all of whom are undergoing treatment for potential Covid 19 infection.

Saeed Namaki, another Health Ministry envoy, told local news agencies that in the province of Gilan alone, at least 200 have died of the infectious disease. Namaki, though, later retracted his statement saying he had mistakenly included patients who died from other causes. .

Namaki’s retraction only fueled doubts that the Iranian government has been suppressing information about the true impact of the pandemic in the country.

In fact the reason why representatives from Iran’s Health Ministry are making the announcements is because Iraj Harirchi, the Deputy Health Minister in charge of Iran’s Covid-19 task force has also tested positive of the novel coronavirus.

Moreover, at least 24 members of the parliament have tested positive, two of whom have died; one was a representative of Tehran, while the other is from Gilan who won in the election. Many believe that the reason the government had suppressed information about the growing coronavirus crisis, was to avoid reducing voter turnout.