US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — The epidemic of new coronavirus affects almost all the provinces in Iran, where the authorities announced Wednesday 92 total deaths linked to Covid-19, the most important report outside of China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled that the virus is now “well established” in Iran and warned of the lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday rejected a conditional proposal for American assistance to help his country fight the disease by denouncing Washington’s “vicious” sanctions having a direct effect on access to medicines in Iran.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health, 2,922 people have been infected with the new coronavirus in Iran, which has more than 80 million inhabitants.
“The number of new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours is 586”, of which “fifteen unfortunately lost their lives, said the ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, during the daily press briefing.
Total death toll stands at 92, with Iran having the highest number of disease-related deaths outside of China, where it originated
With 253 and 101 new cases respectively, the provinces of Tehran and Qom, a Shiite holy city 150 km south of the capital, were the most affected, according to the spokesman.
The Covid-19 disease now affects each of the 31 provinces of Iran except one, that of Bouchehr (southeast), despite measures taken by the authorities to try to prevent its spread: closings of schools and universities, suspension of cultural and sporting events or reduction of working hours in administrations.
– “Mask of sympathy” –
“The virus has no wings to fly. It is we who spread it,” said Mr. Jahanpour, calling for “reducing unnecessary social contact” and recalling that the authorities were asking everyone to avoid getting move.
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was ready to help Iran fight the viral pneumonia epidemic, provided that country requests it.
Iranian foreign affairs rejected the proposal on Sunday, saying it was “wary of the intentions of the Americans.”
Those “who have done the most vicious things against the Iranian nation in the past two years appear (now) decked out in a mask of sympathy,” said Rohani at a cabinet meeting.
“Our people know you are lying,” the Iranian president said to Mr. Trump without naming him.
In 2018, he unilaterally withdrew his country from the international Iranian nuclear agreement signed in 2015, before restoring heavy economic sanctions against Tehran, which the United States continues to harden.
On paper, drugs and medical equipment escape Washington’s sanctions.
But in reality, these goods are hit like the others by these measures, international banks generally preferring to refuse a transaction involving Iran for fear of reprisals in the United States.
– Affected officials –
As in previous days, there is an unusual calm on Wednesday in Tehran, where many shops keep their doors closed.
In the streets where giant posters flowering reminding the rules of hygiene to protect themselves from the virus, many inhabitants who dare to go out wear a mask.
The first cases of contamination with the new coronavirus were announced on February 19 in Qom.
Several senior Iranian officials are among those infected with viral pneumonia, including Massoumeh Ebtékar, vice-president responsible for women and the family, Amirhossein Koulivand, head of the National Emergency Service, and the vice-minister of health, Iradj Harirchi.
The disease even killed a member of the Discernment Council, an arbitration body between the institutions of the Islamic Republic, Mohammad Mirmohammadi, according to the Tasnim agency.
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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.