When the coronavirus first appeared, the focus was naturally on China. Gradually, the attention shifted to Japan. As the second- and third-biggest economies in the world, this raised alarm for global economic implications. However, the virus appeared relatively contained within the Asian region. But the deteriorating situation in Iran may end up proving that the Middle Eastern nation may take the mantle from China.

Both countries share critical similarities. For one, they’re both ideological rivals to the U.S. and its western allies. Second, the two administrations will not hesitate to crack down on their citizens if the need arises. Third, the two nations hold critical geographic territory in their respective regions. An impact to either one may have severe reverberations across global financial indices.

At first, Iran was just a blip on the radar. But over the last few days, Iran went from having a few cases to now reporting 245 cases. Also, 26 are dead.

Despite this staggering acceleration, there are reasons to believe that Iran is downplaying the impact of the coronavirus. First, no one trusts them – and frankly, we shouldn’t. Second, the fatality rate based on their reported numbers is a whopping 10.6%. That’s far higher than the roughly 3% average that we’re currently seeing.

If they are lying, Iran could spark a humanitarian crisis.


Iran Is Ground Zero 2.0

To put the 245 cases into perspective, this figure notably exceeds Japan’s tally of 207 cases. Yet as close neighbors to China, Japan has struggled with the coronavirus for a lot longer than Iran.

Logically, this should tell you that Iran is ill-equipped to handle this biological threat. More critically, DW.com states that:

Iran has porous borders with countries that have very poor medical infrastructure. International health officials are concerned that a coronavirus outbreak in the country could quickly spin out of control and create a new epicenter for an outbreak in the Middle East.

This is really the crux of the issue. Although the country is at odds with its neighbors due to historical, cultural and religious reasons, hubs of human activities occur regularly at their borders. Should the coronavirus branch out from Iran, it could create a wave of refugees.

In this situation, Europe should be on notice: if they thought they were reeling from the present refugee crisis, there are more waves coming. Not only that, a mass wave of people can easily spread the coronavirus.

If you’re not taking this issue seriously, I think now is the right time to do so.