As Iran has become the second focal point after China for both the spread of coronavirus and the upsurge in mortality rate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that China and Iran’s censorship of information about the epidemic could lead to “deadly consequences,” in a press conference on Feb. 25, reported ABC News.
Pompeo said that China’s information censorship has hindered the effort to combat the disease in China itself and all nations, saying, “Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge.”
Up to now, Beijing has not allowed WHO’s health worker groups to enter Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel virus to study the origin of the virus and its speedy spread in a further effort to contain the disease in China and worldwide.
The media has also reported the “disappearance” of some Chinese whistleblowers from the health and media industry after they took to social media to expose the epidemic situation in Wuhan.
Secretary Pompeo also raised concerns about the censorship of Iran, noting, “Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country.”
It was reported earlier that there were 50 confirmed death cases in Quom. Yet, it was fiercely denied by the spokesman for the Iranian Parliament, Assadollah Abbasi, who asserted on Feb. 24, “In the whole country, 47 have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Unfortunately, 12 of them have died of the disease so far.”
The governor of Quom, Barham Sarmast, said enough was being done to stop the virus, said The Guardian. Yet a local news agency in the city said on Twitter: “The situation in Qom is very bad. Don’t come to Qom and no one should get out of Qom. Qom should be closed. We need a lot of medical help here. We don’t think we have enough medical staff in the city.”
Pompeo’s stance on the issue was echoed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who indicated, “The world is not getting reliable data out of China on issues like mortality rates,” when testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 25.
Pompeo stressed the importance of information accuracy, stating that it would help not only China itself but also the world citizens amid the fast-pace spread of the virus.
As of Feb. 26, the infectious disease has been reported in 42 countries and territories.