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EghtesadOnline: The World Health Organization dispatched a medical team to Iran for the first time since the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 1,500 and the death toll rose to 66.

WHO also sent supplies worth more than $300,000, including gloves, surgical masks and respirators, along with a six-member team to Iran to assist the country in containing the deadly virus, AFP reported.

The WHO-led team consists of doctors, epidemiologists and laboratory specialists who will help Iran detect and control the contagion. The 7.5 tons of medical equipment will benefit Iranian health care providers, according to Financial Tribune.

Iran has registered 523 new cases of the coronavirus, including 12 who have died from the infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 1,501 and the dead to 66, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raeisi was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Raeisi linked the sudden increase in those infected by the virus to the number of laboratories capable of diagnosing the virus, which has gone from three to 22. 

“Pasteur Institute of Iran can carry out 1,200 tests a day. The surge [in the number of labs] has helped us update the statistics. Nearly 300 have recovered the flu-like disease in Iran,” he said. 

The deputy health minister cautioned against all non-essential travels inside and outside cities, and noted that 70% of visits to hospitals are due to the panic over the spread of the virus.

“Even if someone has contracted the disease, in 80% of the cases, the patient will not require hospitalization and can stay at home,” he said.

Raeisi also pointed to inconsistencies between the numbers announced by the Health Ministry and the statistics reported by provinces, saying that patients who display symptoms get initial treatment until their final test results arrive, which can give the impression that the patient is definitely infected.

On Monday, South Korea announced 599 new cases of the novel coronavirus, followed by Iran with 523 and China with 202.

Authorities have extended the nationwide shutdown of schools until the end of the week. Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said the coronavirus taskforce will decide any further school closure on Thursday. 

Around 40 markets in Tehran have closed to prevent the spread of the disease.



International Aid

Health officials said the Foreign Ministry has received numerous calls from international organizations that have announced their readiness to assist the Iranian people in the fight against the epidemic and can deliver the aid via Iranian embassies. 

The US also made the same proposal, but Iran refused to accept it in view of its hostility toward the Iranian nation.

Talking to reporters on Monday about the offer by the United States to help Iran address the critical situation, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said, “The US claims to aid the Iranian people but we have witnessed how they have tried to weaken the country and its people.”  

Abbas Mousavi added, “We have doubts about the intentions of the US. We do not count on them and we will not accept lip service from them. They even have held up aid coming from the Swiss humanitarian channel.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the US is ready to support Iran during the coronavirus outbreak through humanitarian assistance and it also supports any country that sends aid to Iran for a better containment of the virus.


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