Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Covid-19-Muharram: Anatomy of a State Crime

Proving how Islamic Republic has always prioritized its existence over people's lives no matter how many would be sacrificed. Statistical analysis of COVID-19 in Iran.

191 days have passed since Islamic Republic officials have announced arrival of the novel coronavirus into the country. Iran, a country with a population of more than 83 million people, several ethnicities with their own culture and rituals, has been grappling with the disease when the theocratic regime ruling it, keep watching people die. Three months into the pandemic, we published an article proving data manipulations by the regime. Since then, even more evidence has surfaced indicating the regime has been busy falsifying COVID-19 stats in Iran instead of implementing plans and restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Most countries around the world have been involved with coronavirus and many have already gone back to normal life after following their experts’ advice, imposing lockdowns and lifting restrictions gradually. During this time if there were any resurgence reports, they would tighten and reimpose restrictions on high risk businesses, traveling, … Most mandated using masks in all communal areas right off the bat.

Islamic Republic has done opposite of all these measures!

  • They hid when COVID-19 reached Iran, because of Islamic Revolution 41st anniversary ceremonies and Islamic Consultative Assembly sham elections!
  • They did not stop Mahan Air flights to/from China until it was too late,
  • They didn’t quarantine Qom and Gilan despite experts’ advice, as epicenters of the virus,
  • 1 week lockdown was lifted suddenly across the country after the Persian New Year holidays,
  • They continuously manipulate the data,
  • No restrictions reimposed despite 28 of 31 provinces in alarming or red situation in the second wave other than closing a few businesses,
  • Mandated wearing masks on July 5, 5 months into the pandemic, in government buildings and service centers,
  • and no travel restrictions have been implemented in the country, therefore making coloring the map pointless!

An arbitrary number was chosen in April to color the map with Green (no case), White (not dangerous), Yellow (mild danger), Orange (very dangerous) and Red (critical)! There’s no green region in the country, as of this writing. On the daily report by the Ministry of Health, only red and alarming provinces are announced, which to date there is no clear definition for the “alarming” status. Each province is consistent of tens of counties, hundreds of cities, thousands of townships and villages, but none of those are announced. Since March 22, even individual stats for each province is not released anymore and late April provincial officials were banned from disclosing any stats to the public!

Few weeks to Muharram all officials, from Khamenei and Rouhani to different ministers and religious leaders insisted on holding “big mourning ceremonies for Imam Hossein.” In a nutshell, Shias would mourn the death of their 3rd Imam, prophet’s grandchild and son of Imam Ali, who was killed in Karbala, Iraq, more than 1340 years ago. The rituals include crowded gatherings where people would be crying and hitting their chests/heads to show they sympathize with Hossein’s pain and sufferings. The Shia religious leaders have manipulated the events of Karbala and how Hossein was killed to make people sob more. And over centuries, Muharram has become an integral part of Shia fact, and since 1979, the base for Islamic Republic, Khamenei, IRGC and Basij.

Cancelling Muharram was out of the question, even if it costs people’s lives. Khamenei gave an order and called mourning ceremonies “must-haves”. Ministry of Health devised some protocols which most of them had no guarantee of being successfully implemented, except one; Manipulation of stats. It’s been 6 months into the pandemic and no sign of it slowing down. The authorities have only caused more confusion during this time, what’s the guarantee for their plans to work this time?!

As predicted, none did and reports of indoor gatherings, no masks, no social distancing and food served in these gatherings circulated on social media. But, as usual, propaganda engine started and state-controlled media in coordination with Ministry of Health officials broadcasted news of every single protocol being followed and daily cases started to fall!

Statistical Analysis

Testing:

Officials announced testing number only from April 13, 2 months into the pandemic. The daily tests gradually increased but remained at the same level throughout the pandemic so far, despite the officials claim they have been exporting test kits to other countries! They also used “active case finding” as an excuse to explain the soaring number of cases in the second wave, but that wore off as the overwhelmed hospitals were too obvious. The graphs also refuted their claim.

On the other hand, the positivity rate has remained in the same range. That is the percentage of positive results to the number of tests done. To date, according to official stats, the average positivity rate in Iran is 11.17% and 25 tests per 100,000 population have been performed! In comparison, US is performing 205 per 100,000 and its average positivity rate is 6.92%! That means Islamic Republic only conducts and reports tests that have been done on symptomatic/suspected patients and doesn’t have a testing program as per WHO recommendations. According to WHO, countries with 5% or less positivity rate in a 2-week period are to lift restrictions, while in Iran they were lifted on April 11, in the middle of the first wave.

It’s worth noting, Islamic Republic officials have been constantly bragging about their “protocols” and how well they have “controlled” the virus. They even have started a “Corona Match” in which they’re ahead of US and EU 5-1 and in another instance, 7-1!

Protocols:

Islamic Republic’s favorite word in the past 6 months! The scapegoat used at every turn. The officials have had no actual practical plans but some unenforced “protocols” throughout the pandemic which have been totally dependent on the people. The people who have no choice but to go to work since there has been no support from the government for their lives. However, religious gatherings have been the main crowded areas which their implications have been ignored by the government because they rule just because of those rituals!

The inefficiency of Ministry of Health protocols is vivid through a look at the graphs! The restrictions were lifted “only under certain protocols.” The Ramadan gatherings were to be held “only if protocols are followed.” Eid Fitr Prayers performed across the country “under health protocols.” Mosques reopened “if they control and supervise the implementation of protocols.” Masks were mandated in government buildings with no consequences for those who don’t follow the directives. No directive for shopping malls! Cinemas reopened with no supervision! Then it came Muharram and “its very strict restrictive protocols.”

According to the history of COVID-19 in Iran, despite manipulated data, a third peak/wave is expected to hit overflown hospitals in late September.

Overall Stats:

It’s been established several times, with analysis, evidence or reports from insiders that Islamic Republic regime has been intentionally undercounting and engineering stats. Considering its legitimacy crisis both in the country and internationally, COVID-19 could catalyze nationwide uprising like November 2019, and that Rouhani has cited this as the reason for premature reopening of the country!

In the past few days, after Khamenei ordered the Muharram manipulations, the officials have been trying to make a point by repeating “people’s cooperation have led to a decline in cases.” But looking at the graphs prove otherwise!

The number of daily cases from the beginning of the pandemic have been kept in a specific range. In the first wave, it was kept under 2,000 and in the second wave, between 2,000 and 2,600, while the highest daily death toll and cases were both reported in the second wave. Highest daily death toll was recorded on July 28 with 235 deaths, after several days of breaking records. The highest number of daily cases was recorded on June 4 with 3,574, both shown on the graphs.

Another parameter to consider is the mortality rate! The number of deaths per cases. According to the widely scrutinized stats of the Islamic Republic, that number has increased significantly in the second wave. While the rest of the world has brought down their mortality rate, it has reached 5.7% in Iran while it’s 3.1% in the US, 3.7% in Afghanistan! This is another indicative of inefficient “protocols” and drastically low number of testing performed by Islamic Republic.

The graphs also show there is a lag between peak in cases and deaths. The death peak in the first wave happened before the cases peak and it was the other way around for the second wave. Also, the lag between the two was shorter in the first wave compared to the second. Both phenomenon either opposite of what’s been happening in the rest of the world or not matching them at all. For example, in the US, the death peak has happened once and it in the first few weeks of the pandemic.

Regardless of “protocols” Ministry of Health publishes every now and then, especially for Muharram, due to the aforementioned reasons, the third wave is coming. And as usual, people and their traveling would be blamed for the “COVID-19-Muharram“, the officials have already laid the groundwork for it.

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