COVID-19 pandemic in Iran
The COVID-19 pandemic in Iran is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). On 19 February 2020, Iran reported its first confirmed cases of infections in Qom. The virus may have been brought to the country by a merchant from Qom who had travelled to China.In response to the coronavirus the government cancelled public events and Friday prayers; closed schools, universities, shopping centres, bazaars, and holy shrines; and banned festival celebrations. Economic measures were also announced to help families and businesses, and the pandemic is credited with compelling the government to make an unprecedented request for an emergency loan of five billion US dollars from the International Monetary Fund. The government initially rejected plans to quarantine entire cities and areas, and heavy traffic between cities continued ahead of Nowruz, despite the government's intention to limit travel. The government later announced a ban on travel between cities following an increase in the number of new cases. Government restrictions were gradually eased starting in April. The number of new cases fell to a low on 2 May, but increased again in May as restrictions were eased, with a new peak of cases reported on 4 June, and new peaks in the number of deaths reported in July. Despite the increase, the Iranian government stated that it had no option but to keep the economy open; the economy of Iran was already affected by US sanctions, and its GDP fell by a further 15% due to the coronavirus pandemic by June 2020.Some early outside estimates of the numbers of COVID-19 deaths are much higher than those from government sources, while the People's Mujahedin of Iran has consistently claimed a much higher death toll. Leaked data suggest that 42,000 people had died with COVID-19 symptoms by 20 July compared to 14,405 reported that date. The government has also been accused of cover-ups, censorship, and mismanagement. However, the World Health Organization says that it has not seen problems with Iran's reported figures, although a WHO official later said that due to limited testing in the early months, the number of cases reported in Iran may represent only about 20% of the real number until more tests could be conducted. Later increase in the number of cases in May was attributed to increased testing by the Iranian government. The official number of cases surpassed 200,000 with over 10,000 deaths recorded by June 2020. President Rouhani, however, estimated that 25 million may have become infected by July 2020, considerably higher than the official count. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iran account for around a quarter of all cases in the MENA region by mid-July.Multiple government ministers and senior officials have been diagnosed as SARS-CoV-2 positive, as well as 23 members of the Parliament (around 8% of all MPs) by 3 March. At least 17 Iranian politicians and officials had died from the virus by 25 March. Notable Iranians reported to have died from COVID-19 include Hadi Khosroshahi, Mohammad Mirmohammadi, Hossein Sheikholeslam, Fatemeh Rahbar, Reza Mohammadi Langroudi, Mohammad-Reza Rahchamani, Nasser Shabani, Hashem Bathaie Golpayegani, Hamid Kahram, and Khosrow Sinai.