New Digest: Week of August 3

August 3

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 312,035 cases including 17,405 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari said that Tehran, Mazandaran, East Azerbaijan, Khorasan Razavi, Alborz, Golestan, Kerman, Isfahan, Ardabil, North Khorasan, Semnan, Yazd, Gilan, and Markazi provinces were all considered “red zones” due to high rates of infections. State television revealed that, on average, one Iranian was dying from COVID-19 every seven minutes.


August 4

Health: Iran recorded 314,786 cases and 17,517 deaths from coronavirus. Health Ministry spokesman Lari said that 272,535 Iranians had recovered from the virus.

Justice/Espionage: The family of Jamshid Sharmahd, a member of an Iranian militant opposition group who had been living in California, said that Sharmahd had been abducted on July 28 while visiting Dubai. On July 30, his phone last reported a signal in the Omani port city of Sohar. On August 1, Iran announced that it had captured Sharmahd in a “complex operation,” and the Intelligence Ministry published a photo of him blindfolded.  “We’re seeking support from any democratic country, any free country,” his son Shayan Sharmahd told the Associated Press. “It is a violation of human rights. You can’t just pick someone up in a third country and drag them into your country.”


Human Rights/Justice: Lyndall Sachs, Australia’s ambassador to Iran, said that she had visited Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic jailed on espionage charges in Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran. “Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities and books,” the Australian government said in a statement. “We will continue to seek regular consular access to Dr. Moore-Gilbert.” Moore-Gilbert was relocated from Evin Prison the previous week.

Health: Ali Asghar Mounesan, Iran’s tourism minister, said that the threat of coronavirus should not bring tourism to a complete halt. “Corona is a fact, but can the virus stop tourism? Certainly not. For us, the coronavirus is a new experience in dealing with crises that teaches tourism experts around the world how to deal with such a disaster, and thankfully governments are turning this into an opportunity for better planning,”Mounesan told ISNA. “Tourism experts will certainly find a way to deal with this great crisis.”


August 5

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 317,483 cases and 17,802 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Lari announced that 274,932 patients had recovered from the virus.

August 6

Health: Iran recorded 320,117 infections, including 17,976 deaths from coronavirus. The Ministry of Health reported that 2,612,763 Iranians had been tested for the virus.

Diplomacy: The State Department announced that Brian Hook, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, had resigned to move on to the private sector. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Elliott Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, would assume the role. On August 7, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that there was no difference between Hook and Abrams, using the hashtag “#BankruptUSPolicy” in a tweet. “When U.S. policy concerns Iran, American officials have been biting off more than they can chew. This applies to Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump and their successors,” Mousavi said.

Diplomacy: Iran sent two shipments of food and medical supplies to Lebanon following a massive explosion at Beirut’s port that left at least 157 people dead and injured thousands more. Tehran also dispatched a mobile hospital and a 37-person medical team to Beirut. “We sympathize with the dear citizens of Lebanon and stand by them in the painful tragedy of the explosion in Beirut port, which killed and injured a large number of people and caused severe damage. Patience in the face of this tragedy will be a golden page in Lebanon’s honor,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted on August 5.


August 7

Health: Iran reported 322,567 cases and 18,132 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry Spokesman Lari said that 279,724 Iranians had recovered from the virus.