Iran arrests man who made shocking coronavirus video as death toll rises to 92

Iran arrests man who made shocking coronavirus video as death toll rises to 92
Iran arrested a man for publishing a shocking video of coronavirus victims in Qom while simultaneously announcing new measures to combat the disease as the death toll rose to 92.
3 min read
04 March, 2020
Signs appeared warning people against behaviour which might spread the coronavirus [Getty]
Iranian authorities on Wednesday arrested a man who published horrifying video of the corpses of coronavirus victims awaiting burial in the shrine city of Qom, the epicentre of Iran's coronavirus outbreak, Iran International TV reported.

"Look at those stacked corpses," the man said in the video.

"As you can see, there are many corpses of coronavirus victims. It has been this way for six days because of the lack of the ability to perform a proper burial."

He accused Iranian authorities of covering up the scale of the outbreak. The news came as Iranian authorities raised the country’s coronavirus death toll from 77 to 92.

Iran has suffered the world's deadliest outbreak outside China and the disease has now spread to all but one of the country's provinces. Unlike in other countries, the disease has affected top Iranian officials.

The national emergency services chief Pirhossein Kolivand was the latest such infection announced on Tuesday.

On Monday the virus claimed the life of Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council which advises Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, the country's deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, fell ill with COVID-19, as did Iran’s Vice-President for Women’s and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar.

Comment: Iran's mishandling of coronavirus outbreak puts people at risk

A total of 2,922 people have now been infected, with 586 new cases being reported overnight.

The Iranian government on Wednesday announced new measures to combat the disease, saying that it would temporarily release 54,000 people from prison and deploy hundreds of thousands of healthworkers.

Iran has come under pressure from Gulf countries to combat the coronavirus after cases of infection were found in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates were found among people returning from Qom.

Iranian authorities originally refused to restrict visits to Qom but said on Wednesday that people trying to leave the Shia shrine city would be quarantined if they show symptoms.

"This virus doesn't have wings to fly. We're the ones spreading it," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, who gave the latest figures, told a televised news conference.

"We have to cut down on unnecessary interactions. We have to be extra careful in the coming weeks," he added, calling on the public to refrain from travelling and gathering at events such as weddings.

The provinces of Tehran and Qom were the worst-hit with 253 and 101 new cases of COVID-19 respectively, according to the spokesman.

Schools have been shut, major cultural and sporting events suspended, and working hours reduced.

Tehran's streets were considerably quieter than usual on Wednesday, with few shops open.

Many people wore masks as they walked along streets hung with large posters on preventing infection.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile dismissed a US offer to help it fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, charging that Washington hides behind a "mask of sympathy" while sanctions are depriving the country of medicine.

On Saturday US President Donald Trump had said, "If we can help the Iranians with this problem, we are certainly willing to do so... All they have to do is ask. We will have great professionals over there," he said.

However, Rouhani accused Trump of lying and hypocrisy, saying, "Those who have deprived the people of even medicine and food through sanctions, who have done the most vicious things... they appear with a mask of sympathy and say that we want to help the nation of Iran," Rouhani said, in a clear reference to the United States.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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