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Iran Accused of Lying About its Coronavirus Statistics

On Mon. 2 March 2020 media sources reported that Mohammed Mirmohammadi, a member of the inner circle of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had succumbed to the deadly coronavirus. Other top officials in the country are confirmed to be infected with the illness, according to multiple reports. The Iranian Health Ministry said that the country's known total of those who have been hit with the virus is 2,336. Iran reports 77 deaths so far, the second-highest country number after the virus’s source, China, which reports some 3,000 fatalities. But the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK) a major resistance group said, also on Monday, that the death toll in Iran exceeds 1,000 and that those suffering from the illness are 20 times the official number put out by the government. Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, warned that Iran could become a major conduit for spreading the virus to its neighbors. “The Iranian leadership appears more willing to blame others and sanctions rather than accept any accountability for themselves and so more people will die,” said Rubin.  “It’s just one more way Iran will victimize Iraq, and from Iraq it could spread in a cross-sectarian way throughout the rest of the Middle East.” Iran has closed schools and universities due to COVID-19, but religious Shiite shrines have remained open. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran began in Qom the religious city. Last week, Iranians were captured licking some of the shrines located there in defiance of the disease. (VFI News)