Fact Check: Officials Did NOT Say Coronavirus Killed 200 In Iran

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Officials Did NOT Say Coronavirus Killed 200 In Iran

Did a report state that the novel coronavirus had killed 200 in Iran? No, that's not true: The number of deaths in official reports on March 3, 2020, were much lower than stated in this article.

The claim that inflated the numbers - purporting to show the most recent news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran - originated from an article published by MCMNT.COM on March 3, 2020, titled "JUST IN: Coronavirus kills 200 in Iran - MCM" (archived here) which opened:

Iranian Deputy Minister of Health Alireza Raisi said on Tuesday that the total number of people with coronavirus infection has reached 2,500 and some 200people have died and 435 others have recovered.

Out of the infected, 23 are lawmakers, representing eight percent of the 290-seat parliament members

Alireza Raisi, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA said there are 835 new cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, of which 50 have died.

Gilan, Qom and Tehran are at the top of the list with the coronavirus. Although the disease trend in Qom has been fixed, cases of infection in these three provinces are more than the other provinces.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

JUST IN: Coronavirus kills 200 in Iran - MCM

Iranian Deputy Minister of Health Alireza Raisi said on Tuesday that the total number of people with

The World Health Organization Situation Report #43 was released on the morning of March 3, 2020. The WHO reported 1,501 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iran, and of these, 523 were new confirmed cases. Among those new cases, there were 12 deaths, bringing the total deaths in Iran to 66. The numbers in the WHO report reflect the data available from the respective nation's authorities at 10 a.m. CET.

The numbers recorded for Iran are lower than the updated numbers presented by Iran's Deputy Minister of Health, Alireza Raisi, in a news conference later that day.

The Islamic Republic News Agency published a summary of Alireza Raisi's report titled "Coronavirus death toll mounts to 77 in Iran". PMNEWSNIGERIA.COM published an article based on this update from the Deputy Minister of Health titled, "Coronavirus kills 77 in Iran, 23 lawmakers infected".

The PMNEWSNIGERIA article was changed by MCMNT.COM to raise the numbers. The headline was also altered to give the impression that this was the most recent news. All three articles, plus the WHO report, were published on March 3, 2020.

The PMNEWSNIGERIA story began:

Iranian Deputy Minister of Health Alireza Raisi said on Tuesday that the total number of people with coronavirus infection has reached 2,336 and some 77 people have died and 435 others have recovered.

Compare with the opening paragraph from the false reporting in the MCMNT.COM article:

Iranian Deputy Minister of Health Alireza Raisi said on Tuesday that the total number of people with coronavirus infection has reached 2,500 and some 200people have died and 435 others have recovered.

The paragraphs are identical except the number of people who had tested positive was raised from 2,336 to 2,500, and the number of people who had died was raised from 77 to 200. Notice there is even a typo at the point where the number 200 was inserted without adding a space.

There was one additional number that was altered by MCMNT.COM - the number of new deaths. Here is how PMNEWSNIGERIA presented the statistic:

Alireza Raisi, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA said there are 835 new cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, of which 11 have died.

MCMNT changed the number of new deaths in the group of new cases from 11 to 50. They wrote:

Alireza Raisi, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA said there are 835 new cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, of which 50 have died.

The BBC reported on February 28, 2020, that the Iranian death toll was 210. Iranian officials denied the BBC report - which was based on "hospital sources".

[Iranian Health] Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour insisted it was being transparent and accused the BBC of spreading lies.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rank the reliability of websites, describes mcmnt.com as:

An anonymously operated website that published a false story claiming that Pope Francis has been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus.

Here is a screenshot of this article as it appeared on the site before it was updated.

JustIN.JPG

Here is a screenshot of the story, still false, as it appears with the update on March 4, 2020 (archived here):

JustIN2.JPG

The false report that Pope Francis tested positive for Coronavirus is still there in the right sidebar.

According to NewsGuard, the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about mcmnt.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

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