This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani on July 18 estimated that as many as 25 million Iranians could have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak, as he urged the public to take the pandemic seriously.
Rohani cited a new study by the Health Ministry in offering the unprecedentedly high number of 25 million coronavirus cases. Iran’s population is around 81 million people.
“Our estimate is that until now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rohani said in his remarks.
“The report says that there is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk,” he said.
Rohani said more than 200,000 people had been hospitalized while adding that the number was expected to double in the coming months.
Rohani did not say what the report’s estimates were base on. The study has so far not been made public.
Experts and others have long said that real numbers of coronavirus cases in Iran are higher than the confirmed figures.
A parliamentary report released in April said Iran’s death toll is likely nearly double the officially reported figures. Given insufficient testing, the report said the number of people infected at the time was probably “eight to 10 times” higher than the confirmed figures.
According to the latest figures released by the Health Ministry on July 18, Iran has 271,606 infections while the death toll stands at 13,979.
In recent weeks, Iran has seen a surge in its daily death toll.
Authorities on July 18 reimposed one-week restrictions in the capital, Tehran, including banning religious and cultural functions, closing cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks, and zoos in an effort to contain the deadly pandemic.