SHOCKING footage has emerged showing Iranians collapsed in the street as activists say the coronavirus struck the country months before officials admit.
A number of disturbing images have been posted on social media from across Iran which show people who are thought to have Covid-19 lying in streets as passersby give them a wide berth.
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A man is seen slumped on the kerb in Zahedan, south-east Iran, coughing and seemingly in pain, in one clip.
While in another a man is seen coughing as he lies on the floor in what looks like a shopping centre.
Sun Online hasn't been able to independently verify the claims or the footage.
According to some, the pandemic originated in the Chinese embassy in Tehran three weeks before the first official case was recorded.
Currently distrust of the government’s reporting of the pandemic is growing with some saying there is a cover-up of the real death toll which could be five times higher than the official figures.
Ambulance records, seen by the MailOnline, indicated that three Iranian employees of the Chinese embassy in Tehran were hospitalised with suspected Covid-19 symptoms on January 28.
The files were supplied by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) which works as a network for anti-regime activists.
Iran recorded its first coronavirus patient, a merchant in Qom, on February 19.
The Iranian leadership has been accused of keeping the earlier cases quiet over fears it could embarrass the Chinese.
Iran is currently heavily dependent on China’s support as US sanctions grip the country.
However, Iran has hit back at the accusations saying that while the embassy workers did have high fevers and severe coughs they did not have the coronavirus and have since been discharged from hospital.
BODIES LYING IN THE STREET
The NCRI estimates deaths from the virus in Iran exceed 43,800 people across 320 towns.
The Iranian government claims that only 7,417 citizens have died from the virus so far.
The embassy patients included a 37-year-old woman and two 33-year-old men, one of whom had recently visited China.
One of the reports said: “[The patient is] 33-years-old, with severe coughing, symptoms of cold.
“He says he was in China for the past 12 days, and in the first three days after arriving in Tehran, he had high fever, diarrhoea, and severe coughing.
“He says he works at the Chinese Embassy (in Tehran), and his colleagues have had symptoms of coronavirus. He is hospitalised.”
Other ambulance records show that a 33-year-old woman was taken to hospital with symptoms of covid-19 on January 31, after leading a tour of Chinese nationals.
She had fallen ill at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran.
A spokesman for the Iranian government said: “The patients seem to have left the hospital later, as it was proved that the cases were not coronavirus. There are no other records. Statements by patients at the admission stage, before tests, may not be used as proof for any disease.”
Since the beginning of this crisis, Iran has been very reluctant to tell truth to its own citizens
David Patrikarakos, Fellow at the School of Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, told MailOnline: “Iran is incredibly reliant on China, especially since the re-imposition of US sanctions.
“So the regime would not do anything to embarrass the Chinese government.
“Admitting that there was coronavirus within the Chinese embassy in January would have done just that, so it would be no surprise if Iran covered it up.”
He added: “Since the beginning of this crisis, Iran has been very reluctant to tell truth to its own citizens. That is because the regime has some culpability because it was so slow to respond.”
Shahin Gobadi, an NCRI spokesman, said: “The Iranian regime is engaged in a massive cover-up regarding the spread of the coronavirus.
“They have been extremely under-reporting the death toll, because the staggering figures would demonstrate their incompetence, ineptitude, mismanagement, and negligence both in terms of disseminating the relevant information in a timely manner and in providing medical care and treatment to those in need of help.”
The Iranian government claims it has been honest and transparent in reporting the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesman said: “There are lot of conspiracy theories around the source of covid-19, including some in Britain about 5G.
“It is unfortunate that some have engaged in blame game to advance certain political aims, when nations should work together to combat and eradicate such a vicious virus.
“Iran, as the hub of medical tourism in West Asia, benefits from the best health service in the region. Official figures by this service continue to be the most credible source for information about covid-19 in Iran.
“Iran and China have helped each other in the fight against the disease, despite the inhuman US sanctions on drugs and medicine.
"These continue despite global requests for its removal to help Iran's health service combat the virus more efficiently.”
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