Iran: Health Minister Who Resigned in Protest Says He Warned of Coronavirus Last Year

n this photo released by official website of the Iranian Presidency office, President Hassan Rouhani, center, listens to head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, left, while attending a ceremony marking the national day of nuclear technology in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Rouhani warned on Thursday …
Iranian Presidency Office via AP

Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who served as Iran’s health minister until resigning in protest in January 2019, said on social media Sunday that he had information on the spread of the Chinese coronavirus in Iran as early as December 2019 and privately warned the Islamic regime of a potential epidemic.

Scientists believe the first known Chinese coronavirus case was diagnosed on November 17, 2019, in central Wuhan, Hubei province, China. China made public its finding of a novel virus on January 20, over two months after the first identified case. Mahar Air, the Iranian airline run by the terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), continued flights connecting Iran to China late into February.

Iran is now considered one of the nations with the deadliest and least controlled Chinese coronavirus outbreaks. Tehran officially claims to have identified slightly over 23,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 2,000 deaths as of Monday, though activists and whistleblowers within the country allege the death toll is far higher.

Both the Iranian Islamic regime and the Chinese Communist Party have accused the United States of creating the Wuhan coronavirus in a laboratory. Iranian officials have additionally blamed “Zionists” for the global pandemic. Neither regime has offered any evidence to support these claims.

“Since late December, I was warning about the spread of the coronavirus and presenting the country’s senior officials, including the honorable President, and my proposals to contain it,” Ghazizadeh posted on his Instagram account this weekend, according to a translation by Radio Farda. The former health minister said that the government’s response to the outbreak has been poor and, “with such methods, we cannot get rid of the ‘uninvited guest,’ and it will take more victims.”

Ghazizadeh reportedly lamented, “most of my efforts have been ineffective so far.”

Radio Farda noted that the former health minister resigned protesting that Tehran was cutting the Health Ministry’s budget in early 2019, leaving the nation vulnerable. At the time, Iran had endured multiple waves of popular protests against the Islamic regime for squandering billions in funding it received as a result of the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had vowed to invest the profits of the nuclear deal in bolstering the Iranian economy and improving daily life but instead invested the money in terrorist activities in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East. When President Donald Trump reinstated sanctions against the regime, noting its blatant violations of the nuclear deal, Iran’s economy collapsed, leaving many struggling to buy basics like eggs and milk.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency dismissed Ghazizadeh’s accusation, citing a “source” within the Islamic regime who said he or she could not “confirm” the former minister’s claims.

While Tehran insisted on Monday its death toll was still under 2,000 as a result of the pandemic, Radio Farda, citing whistleblowers in the Iranian medical system, estimated the real number of patients in the hospital as of Saturday to be 46,972. Another 2,216 have died of the outbreak, the news agency noted. The number of cases is roughly double what Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, citing government officials, claimed on Monday.

“Iran’s Health Ministry counts only those who have tested positive for the disease but its ability to test is limited. Many deaths are registered as respiratory complications or influenza because there are not enough test kits for everyone with symptoms,” Radio Farda noted.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the largest Iranian dissident organization, has published daily tallies of coronavirus deaths that eclipse Radio Farda’s numbers. As of Monday, the NCRI cited its insiders in the healthcare system to declare that Iran’s death toll was near 10,000.

In a rare display of discord within the Islamic authoritarian regime, local Iranian officials have called into question the official coronavirus case numbers out of Tehran, noting that adding up the tallies from individual states yields a far larger number than the federal statistics show. Iran’s Health Ministry has also hinted at a public health disaster at the hands of the regime.

“Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on Twitter last week.

Much of the response to the outbreak on the part of Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani has been to blame the United States for Tehran’s failure to ameliorate the situation. In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei repeated a claim circulating in Iranian state propaganda for weeks that America invented and spread the virus in a biological attack.

Khamenei refused Washington’s offer of humanitarian aid and accused the United States of trying to sneak more “poison” into Iran and kill more people through the aid.

“Possibly your (offered) medicine is a way to spread the virus more,” Khamenei said. “Or if you send therapists and doctors, maybe he wants to see the effect of the poison, since it is said that part of the virus is built for Iran.”

“Our number one enemy is America. It is the most wicked, sinister enemy of Iran … its leaders are terrorists … Liars and charlatans,” Khamenei concluded.

On Monday, Rouhani accused the United States of offering a “glass of muddy water” to destitute Iran and refused any aid.

America’s aid offer to the people its enemy is subjugating “is like someone who has blocked the path to a well and does not allow anybody to approach the clean water … and instead holds up a glass of muddy water and says, ‘I have come to help and I know you are thirsty,'” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian state propaganda outlet PressTV. “We don’t need the United States’ glass of muddy water.”

Fars News Agency, another state propaganda outlet, once again repeated the unsubstantiated claim that the Chinese coronavirus is a biological weapon on Monday.

“This hypothesis is being thoroughly investigated and the possibility of the coronavirus being a biological attack has not been ruled out,” Fars News quoted General Nasrollah Fathian, a senior military official, as saying. “There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined.”

The Iranian regime has offered Washington humanitarian aid for Americans suffering a Chinese coronavirus infection.
Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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