Among the many countries affected by the coronavirus, Iran has been one of the worst-hit. Last week it had been confirmed that several officials, including the Vice-President for Women’s Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, and Deputy Health Minister of Iran, Iraj Harirchi, had contracted the disease. A widespread video of Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, shows him sweating and coughing, only to later be tested positive for the virus. Earlier this week it had also been confirmed that Mohammad Mirmohammadi, advisor to Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, had died after contracting coronavirus.
Within a fortnight, the number of cases of coronavirus in Iran has escalated from two cases, to approximately 2,300 cases. The inability and inefficiency of the Iranian government in being able to contain the spread of the disease in the area, has led to a lack of public trust in the state’s capacity to bring a solution to the rapid spread. Public panic spreads as Ayatollah Khamanei downplays the urgency and claims, according to the Daily Mail, that the outbreak of the virus is, “not that big a deal.”
The efforts made by the authorities to resolve the situation are being questioned by many, due to the sheer number of government officials who have fallen ill. Masoumeh Ebtekar was seen at a cabinet meeting, sitting merely a few seats away from the President, Hassan Rohani, a day before being tested positive for the virus. The inability to contain the virus, even within the highest branches of government, poses a great danger to not only the nation, but also surrounding countries. This is clear from the fact that the crisis in Iran has also led to the spread of cases to nearby countries, including Kuwait, Oman, and Afghanistan. The lack of skilled healthcare in Middle-Eastern countries overall, causes neighbouring countries to watch Iran’s inability to contain the spread in anxiety. Reports released by various services such as the BBC Persian service, also show that the real number of deaths is being manipulated and downplayed to the public, leading to further distrust and panic in the nation.