Iran's IRGC coronavirus testing device mocked by internet

A video published online showed the device failing to detect coronavirus during a test at a close distance.

Volunteers from Basij forces wearing protective suits and face masks spray disinfectant in the streets, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Tehran, Iran April 3, 2020 (photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/ALI KHARA VIA REUTERS)
Volunteers from Basij forces wearing protective suits and face masks spray disinfectant in the streets, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Tehran, Iran April 3, 2020
(photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/ALI KHARA VIA REUTERS)
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' new coronavirus testing device has gone viral as social media users continue to joke about the device modeled after a toy which has also been publicized as being able to detect metals, fuel and other solid and liquid substances.
The device consists of a handheld detector with an antenna and dish-shaped part. IRGC Commander Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami claimed that the device had been tested and had a reliability rate of about 80% with a range of 100 meters, according to Radio Farda. Iran's Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Kianoush Jahanpur stated on Wednesday that the detector had "not been approved yet."
 
"How can the IRGC detect a virus the size of a nanometer from a distance of 100 meters, but could not identify something as large as a passenger plane?" wrote one Twitter user, referring to the IRGC's downing of a Ukrainian civilian airliner in January, according to Al-Arabiya.
The device resembles a "fuel detector" which Iran unveiled in 2017 to limit fuel smuggling, according to Al Arabiya.
Salami said that the device works by "creating a magnetic field and using a bipolar virus inside the device" and added that it can detect any "contaminated spot within five seconds."
A video published online showed the device failing to detect coronavirus during a test at a close distance.
Hesameddin Ashena, an advisor to President Hassan Rouhani, wrote sarcastically about the device, saying "Do not advertise vaccines, medicine, [coronavirus] test kits or unique and innovative virus detection devices that have not been approved by the Health Ministry."
Even the Persian-language Twitter account of the US State Department has poked fun at the device, writing "It is strange that the device always beeps when it is nearing the guards. Can you next build a device for detection of jinns?" according to Radio Farda.
The IRGC has made several claims about the production of masks, test kits and cures for coronavirus which have not been put to use.
Iran's death toll from the new coronavirus rose by 89 in the past 24 hours to reach 4,958 on Friday, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV.
The total number of cases of infection reached 79,494, of which 3,563 were in critical condition, he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.