Iran says Qom ‘almost stable’ after coronavirus outbreak

Al-Monitor – Iran’s Interior Minister Abdulreza Rahmanifazli said that the coronavirus outbreak may have contributed to record low participation rates in Iran’s Feb. 21 parliamentary elections. It was one of the first official acknowledgements that the virus, which originated in China, is impacting the country.

During the Feb. 21 press conference, Rahmanifazli was asked why there was no quarantine, particularly in Qom, where the virus seems to have first popped up in Iran. Rahmanifazli said that the decision was the Health Ministry’s purview. When asked why the Interior Ministry did not postpone the elections when the outbreak of the highly infectious virus was first announced, he said that such a move would have delayed the formation of the new cabinet.

Rahmanifazli added that Qom’s voter participation rate was 43%.

According to Iran’s Health Ministry, 12 people have died so far from the coronavirus and a total of 61 have been infected. Those figures have been contested, however, with Qom parliamentarian Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani claiming that 50 people in Qom have died from the virus. Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi denied the claim, saying, “According to the directives of the administration and the Supreme National Security Council, no other individual has the qualifications to announce this news.” He added, “The information is with us and we do the testing.”

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