Facing allegations of downplaying the severity of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, Iran unveiled what’s believed to be the world’s first COVID-19 stamp earlier this month.
Celebrating the role of the country’s healthcare workers in combatting the crisis, the commemorative stamp was unveiled by President Hassan Rouhani on March 17 during a ceremony broadcast by Iranian state news.
Only three weeks earlier, on Feb. 24, Iran’s government denied the claim of Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, an Iranian politician who reported 50 deaths in the holy city of Qom, where thousands of pilgrims were arriving each day. Only a dozen deaths were officially reported.
“The official response was glaring denial of the magnitude of the crisis,” wrote Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei, Iranian doctors living in exile in the United States, in a story published on March 6 by The New York Times.
As of March 25, Iran reported more than 27,000 cases and 2,000 deaths; however, Rick Brennan – an emergency director with the World Health Organization who recently visited Iran – told reporters the death toll could be five times higher than the country’s official reported statistics.
The country’s latest stamp depicts a male doctor wearing a face mask and blue scrubs alongside other healthcare workers, a soldier wearing a gas mask and stylized images of the virus.