Selin ATAY-TDO- BBC Persian service investigation has found that the number of deaths from coronavirus in Iran is nearly triple what Iran's government claims.

Iranian government has been accused of deliberately suppressing the extent of its coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak after an anonymous source leaked data which showed vastly more people had both infected and died from the coronavirus.

Iran’s health ministry figures claim 278,827 people have been infected and 14,405 people died with Covid-19 symptoms.

However, the BBC’s Persian service has been given details of daily admissions to hospitals, including ages, gender and symptoms, which found at least 451,024 people have infected coronavirus in Iran and almost 42,000 have died from Covid-19.

It could not be confirmed if the source was a government official or by what means that data was accessed, but research by the BBC Persian Service confirmed the names of some dead or infected patients on the list. Also, the discrepancy between those records and the numbers announced by the government also matched calculations on the actual death toll.

The data, which was sent to BBC by an anonymous source, shows the state has been deliberately reported lower daily numbers, despite knowing the true extent of the crisis.

BBC Persian’s anonymous source said they have shared this data with the BBC to "shed light on truth" and to end "political games" over the epidemic.

"Despite all the pressures that the pandemic has put on the country's medical staff, the outbreak is not large enough to cause such deaths figures," Ali Akbar Haqdoust, deputy health minister, told state radio a day after BBC’s report broadcast on Saturday.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat-Lari said on Saturday that Iran follows World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, while hard-line news media in Iran accused BBC of fabricating evidence.

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