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Fear is tangible as Iran struggles to contain COVID-19

By March 5, 2020

Iran (MNN) — The Islamic Republic of Iran cancelled Friday prayers for the second week in a row and temporarily released more than 50,000 prisoners in an effort to contain COVID-19.

According to official statistics, Iran’s coronavirus death toll is past 90 and nearly 3,000 Iranians are sick – including 23 top officials. Reza* with Global Catalytic Ministries says the numbers don’t quite add up. “The government isn’t very smart,” he says.

“They’ve announced how many people died, but they are lying about how many people are sick because the world is watching the virus.”

The coronavirus mortality rate is between two- and three-percent, Reza explains, but Iran’s mortality rate is much higher – somewhere between 10- and 20-percent. “So, everyone knows that Iran is lying about how many people are affected because of the mortality rate,” he says.

The real story in Iran

Major cities throughout Iran look like ghost towns. Business owners have closed up shop, Reza reports. Few people leave their homes for fear of getting sick, and they have a legitimate reason to stay inside.

“There’s videos of it; people are fainting on the street left and right. The only thing that it could be is the coronavirus because we’ve never had video of this happening ever in the years that I’ve been inside of Iran,” Reza says.

“Then, when [emergency responders] come, the ambulance [worker] is in a full hazmat suit picking these people up and taking them to the hospitals.”

Map of regions with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases as of 4 March 2020.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Fear is tangible throughout Iran. Some exploit the crisis to spread misinformation. Reza says Shiite leaders claim their religious icons will protect people from the coronavirus. More about that here.

“Shiite Islam, the more mystical part… they’re telling people to come to the shrines [and] touch it; there’s even people licking it. It’s so crazy.”

Finances add another challenge; they’re tighter now than before. Last year, U.S. sanctions crippled Iran’s economy, and then the value of the rial fell. Now, COVID-19 is placing another heavy burden on commerce.

“There is no buying and selling; no one’s leaving their house so people are losing their jobs,” Reza says. “Even non-emergency medical work like dentistry are closing because of the virus.”

Most of Iran’s secret believers are “waiting out the storm” by limiting their normal activities.

“We’re waiting it out because we also know that the…virus is a seasonal thing. Hopefully, in the next 45 days to two months, it’ll die down and we can start ministering again,” Reza says.

How to help

Now that you know, what will you do? Reza requests continuous prayer. “The best way to pray for us is Psalm 91 over our lives,” he says.

“Pray that God [will] supernaturally and abundantly give to the believers during this time. People are starving and even not having enough food to feed their family every night.”

Finally, just as God used Esther to deliver the Jews from Haman’s evil plot, “pray that God will raise up the house church to be like an Esther during this time of chaos.”

Read more Iran headlines here.

 

*– Name changed for security purposes.

 

 

Header image depicts the people of Iran spraying antibacterial chemicals to help keep the coronavirus under control. Photo, caption courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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