The Coronavirus Is Iran’s Perfect Storm

Tehran Now Needs the Public Trust and Professional Expertise It Has Squandered

A market during the COVID-19 epidemic in Isfahan, Iran, February 2020  Hossein Dehghanian / Middle East​ I

If you want to die, go to Gilan. This old Iranian proverb does not actually warn people against travel to Gilan, Iran’s beautiful, green, and lush Caspian province, though today that meaning may be more apt. Gilan is the province of Iran most infected with the novel coronavirus after Qom, the city from which the pathogen spread to the rest of the country. (The proverb is actually advising anyone who has had a long, happy life to top it off by dying in Gilan, where neighbors feed the deceased person’s family for a week, instead of the bereaved feeding the neighborhood, which is the custom in the rest of Iran.)

The people of Gilan are paying a high price for the province’s status as a tourist destination. In recent weeks, thousands of Iranians have taken advantage of school closings to go to Gilan, bringing with them the

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