Several Iranian cities have seen a new wave of suspicious illnesses mainly at girls schools sparked by what some have called poisonings, reigniting fears among families after a similar outbreak saw hundreds of students taken to the hospital.

Reports on social media on April 18 noted a surge in illnesses in the cities of Sanandaj, Saqqez, Bukan, Divandarreh, Urmia, Tabriz, Dezful, and Mahdasht Karaj, with several students needing to be hospitalized. That comes after reports in recent days of new illnesses seen in Tehran, Islamshahr, Karaj, Ardabil, Urmia, Qazvin, Babolsar, Hersin, and Shiraz.

Earlier this year, hundreds of students, mainly girls, were hospitalized after complaining of symptoms that included nausea, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties, heart palpitations, numbness, and hand or leg pain. It remains unclear what might be causing the illnesses, though some of those affected have said they smelled chlorine or cleaning agents, while others said they thought they smelled tangerines in the air.

No one has claimed responsibility for the wave of illnesses that some officials — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — have characterized as poisonings.

An unspecified number of arrests had been made in five provinces in connection with the incidents, but few details have been made public.

The lack of clarity over the situation has prompted some to say the suspected poisonings are intentional and a scare tactic being used to intimidate females who have protested over the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a hijab, or head scarf, improperly.

The Telegram channel 1500 Tasvir reported that laboratory samples of students affected by the new wave of poisonings have been sent out of Iran to relevant experts in the field for testing.

The Iranian Teachers’ Union’s Coordination Council in Iran reported that worried parents have taken to the streets to demand justice for the students. In response, government forces resorted to beating, threatening, and arresting a number of parents, sparking more fear among students.

Source » rferl