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Iran: Regime’s Decision to Reopen Business Activities Will Immediately Result in Resurgence of Coronavirus Cases

Iran: Tehran Bazaar is quite crowded in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak
Iran: Tehran Bazaar is quite crowded in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak

It was reported on Tuesday that instances of coronavirus infections were already noticeably surging in certain Iranian hot spots, just days after the regime adopted a plan to reopen its economy amid the global pandemic. Regime authorities had made inconsistent statements about the timing and extent of that plan, but ultimately set an April 11 deadline for re-opening government offices and rather forcing people to resume work instead of prolonging the quarantining date and financial supporting them.  

The regime’s criteria for identifying jobs as low risk were never clearly outlined. In any event, it quickly became apparent that the potential for social distancing in the workplace was not the only significant factor in whether workers would face serious risk of coronavirus infection upon returning to their routines. Saturday’s economic reopening naturally coincided with the resumption of regular transit operations, and people soon posted videos online showing crowded subway cars and bus lines. 

The full impact of these commuting trends remains to be seen, since the novel coronavirus can incubate for up to two weeks before manifesting as the illness known as Covid-19. This fact arguably underscores the carelessness of the economic reopening, and proves that the Iranian regime’s authorities, particularly its supreme leader Ali Khamenei and president Hassan Rouhani do not care about people’s lives.  

As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said: “For Khamenei and Rouhani, the lives and well-being of the people are worthless. They only want to protect their regime from the threat of uprising. The criminal decision to send people to work is a crime against humanity and will cause countless number of victims of COVID-19 in Iran.”  

This is typical of the regime’s inconsistent statements and actions in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Ever since the first official acknowledgment of Iranian cases, the authorities have been dismissing calls for the quarantine of affected areas and populations. Yet in advance of the Iranian New Year holiday, Nowruz, began on March 20 and ended April 2, the regime tasked the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij militia with maintaining checkpoints and actively discouraging inter-city travel and large gatherings. In other words, the regime seized the opportunity to increase its oppressive measures.  

The regime was forced to cancel the typical Nowruz celebrations, after having previously closed schools and foregone Friday prayer gatherings at which clerical leaders routinely deliver propaganda-laden speeches to regime’s forces to boost their moral. But even these measures fell far short of the nationwide lockdowns implemented by other countries in the surrounding region and most importantly these measures were taken far too late when tens of thousands of people lost their lives due to the regime’s cover-up 

Rouhani’s final endorsement of the April 11 reopening was no doubt guided by the prior statements of Khamenei, the ultimate authority in all matters of state. There has been little sign of Khamenei wavering on the reopening, as Rouhani has done. And the impulse to prioritize economic activity over public health is consistent with his Nowruz message, which declared the year ahead to be the “year of boosting production.” In other words, despite their factional fights over having more share of power, all the regime’s officials agree on oppression and antipatriotic measures.  

Khamenei gave a televised speech reiterating that message on April 9, one day before the recorded resurgence in the death toll. He blatantly called the coronavirus outbreak, a “blessing and test” and tried to downplay the crisis. Meanwhile, according to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK) over 29,000 people have lost their lives. 

Accordingly, the regime’s propaganda networks like Press TV began reporting even lower infection rates and death tolls immediately after the economic reopening went into effect. According to them, the regime’s Health Ministry reported 98 deaths on Sunday, pushing the daily total down into double-digit figures for the first time since early last month. 

This reporting is highly suspect, as are all official coronavirus statements coming out of Tehran. In a live Instagram stream, regime’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki attempted to claim that the lower death toll was the result of “smart distancing” protocols that were implemented as “low-risk” workers returned to their jobs.  

Yet, MEK’s death total could point to even higher rates of infection, stretching into the millions. And this reflects a crisis that has been ongoing for much longer than the authorities acknowledge. Whereas the first official statement regarding coronavirus cases was made on February 19, just ahead of regime’s sham parliamentary elections, exposed documents by the NCRI indicate that the first such cases were recognized no later than the last week of January. 

The regime’s initial cover-up set the stage for a long-standing divergence between official narratives about the impact of Covid-19 and independent reporting about the situation in Iranian hospitals and households. One of the first efforts to openly contradict the regime’s messaging came from a local official in the city of Qom. At a time when regime’s authorities were acknowledging only about a dozen deaths, that official stated that at least 50 people had already died from Covid-19 in his locality alone. 

Soon thereafter, it became clear that Qom was an epicenter for the spread of coronavirus, not just in Iran but throughout the region.  

In a nutshell and given the facts above, the regime has no intention of helping the Iranian people. The mullahs will continue their lying and deception to prolong their ominous rule. As Mrs. Rajavi said: “Today, regime change in Iran is indispensable not only to freedom and democracy in Iran but also to the health of each and every individual in Iran and to the protection of their houses, cities and villages against natural disasters.”