New Digest: Week of April 6

April 6

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 60,500 cases and 3,739 deaths from coronavirus. It was the eighth day in a row the number of new cases had dropped. But a member of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce, Hamid Souri, said the number of cases was probably around 500,000. “Many people with milder symptoms have not been detected,” he said, according to state-controlled media.

Diplomacy:  Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi declared that Iran would never accept humanitarian aid from the United States. “Iran has never asked and will not ask America to help Tehran in its fight against the outbreak ... But America should lift all its illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran,” Mousavi said. 


April 7

Health: Iran recorded 62,589 cases and 3,872 deaths from coronavirus. Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that 70 million Iranians had been screened for COVID-19. The figure could not be independently verified.

Health: Dr. Richard Brennan, the World Health Organization's Regional Emergency Director, said that the number of new cases in Iran had decreased. “Due to an impressive scaling up of many of the control measures, we have seen a flattening off of the number of cases in Iran and in fact, some suggestion, in recent days of perhaps a decline in the number of new cases,” Brenan said. 

Politics: The Majles reconvened for the first time since February 25. More than two-thirds of lawmakers gathered for the session. In a vote, parliament rejected an emergency bill for a one-month nationwide lockdown to stem the virus. 


April 8

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 64,586 cases and 3,993 deaths related to COVID-19.

Economics: Iran’s National Headquarters to Fight Coronavirus published guidelines on how “low-risk” businesses could restart operations. They must register on the Ministry of Health’s website and implement specific health guidelines, which the government would make public “in the coming days.” Businesses would be allowed to operate with only two-thirds of their employees and working hours would be from 7 am to 2 pm.


April 9

Health: Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said that the country’s cases of COVID-19 had risen to 66,220, including 4,110 deaths.

Health/Society: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced a ban on mass gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins at the end of April. “We are going to be deprived of public gatherings of the month of Ramadan,” Khamenei said. “In the absence of these meetings, remember to heed your prayers and devotions in your lonesomeness.”

Justice/Human Rights: At least 36 prisoners were reportedly killed by security forces during protests over unsanitary  conditions in eight prisons, according to Amnesty International. The report said that live ammunition and tear gas were used against detainees. “It is abhorrent that instead of responding to prisoners’ legitimate demands to be protected from COVID-19, Iranian authorities have yet again resorted to killing people to silence their concerns,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director of Middle East and North Africa.

Economics: Iran urged the International Monetary Fund to grant a $5 billion loan to help stem the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. President Hassan Rouhani called for “no discrimination” in approving requests after the United States reportedly tried to block the loan. “It will go down in history that the White House has been, even before now, a terrorist on economic issues, but now it is a terrorist in matters of medical treatment too,” Rouhani said.