There are conflicting reports of the number of people who has succumbed to the global coronavirus disease in Iran with report giving the figures to at least 210 people sources in Iran health system told BBC Persian.
They said Most of the victims are from the capital, Tehran, and the city of Qom, where cases of Covid-19 first emerged saying the figure is six times higher than the official death toll of 34 given by the health ministry earlier on Friday.
Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour insisted it was being transparent and accused the BBC of spreading lies, this is coming after a member of parliament for Qom accused the authorities of a cover-up and the US expressed concern that they may not be sharing information.
“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a congressional committee in Washington on Friday.
“Their healthcare infrastructure is not robust and, to date, their willingness to share information about what’s really going on inside… Iran has not been robust.”
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the offer of help.
“The claim to help Iran confront coronavirus by a country that has imposed expansive pressures on the Iranian nation through its economic terrorism and has even blocked the way for purchase of medical equipment and medicines is ridiculous and a political-psychological game,” he said.
There are fears in Iran that the government, unsure of how to handle the outbreak, is covering up the extent of the spread of the new coronavirus disease.
Now, a tally of figures reported by BBC Persian’s sources in several hospitals suggests at least 210 people had died across the country as of Thursday night.
The highest number of deaths were said to be in Tehran, where a disproportionately high number of officials have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19, including a vice-president, a deputy minister, and at least two MPs.
Friday prayers in Tehran and 22 other cities were cancelled, and schools and universities closed.
Thousands of Iranians have also been stranded inside and outside the country as many flights have been stopped to and from Iran.
There have been more than 83,000 reported cases of Covid-19 worldwide and 2,800 deaths since the disease emerged late last year – the vast majority in China.
At midday on Friday, the Iranian health ministry reported eight new deaths related to Covid-19, increasing the official toll to 34.
It also said 143 new cases had been detected, bringing the total to 388.