RNA - In his letter to Guterres, Zarif called for an end to the sanctions imposed by the US government, which he slammed as a major obstacle to Iran’s battle with the coronavirus outbreak.
"Excellency, I am writing to you concerning a matter of the greatest urgency. As you—and my counterparts across the world—are painfully aware, we are now officially amid a pandemic. Most of us have been affected by the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 viral disease, with my country among the worst impacted so far," Zarif wrote in his letter.
He went on to say that while the virus ravages "our cities and towns, our population—unlike thoseof other countries affected—suffer under the most severe and indiscriminate campaign of economic terrorism in history, imposed illegally and extra-territorially by the Government of the United States since it reneged on its commitments under Security Council Resolution 2231in May 2018".
"Although our medical facilities, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are among the very finest in the world, we are stymied in our efforts to identify and treat our patients; in combatting the spread of the virus; and, ultimately, in defeating it, by the campaign of economic terrorism perpetrated by the Government of the United States," Zarif added.
The Iranian foreign minister said that beyond targeting "our lawful trade with others, the illegal US sanctions regime has impacted every sector of our economy, all while our people are told by the US Secretary of State that their government must submit to outrageous outside diktat “if they want to eat”.
"Now, the same shameless U.S. official has gone as far as publicly holding medicine for Iranians to ransom, conditioning such trade on extraneous and extra-judicial demands," he added.
Zarif further said that the Government of the United States’ general collective punishment of the Iranian people—including by depriving them from humanitarian trade, in contravention of repeated sloganeering to the contrary—is clear.
"What has hitherto, and unfortunately, been less clear to the international community is how US economic terrorism is specifically–and directly—undermining our efforts to fight the Covid-19 epidemic in Iran, including as follows: Illegal US secondary sanctions have made it increasingly difficult for Iran to export its oil as well as manufactured items, thereby targeting not only the public sector—which must provide subsidized food, medicine and other necessities for the Iranian people, and particularly the most vulnerable segments of the population—but our entire private sector which provides goods, services and employment for the Iranian people."
Iranian Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced on Friday that the new coronavirus outbreak in the country has claimed 514 lives out of 11,364 confirmed cases of infection so far, adding that 3,529 coronavirus patients have recovered.
Based on the latest reports, in the past 24 hours, 1,289 new cases were confirmed with the coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11,364, Jahanpour declared this noon, adding that 3,529 coronavirus patients have recovered and discharged from hospitals as of Friday.
The health ministry official went on recounting that 85 deaths were registered in the past 24 hours in the country, rising the death toll to 514.
Jahanpour highlighted that the only way to defeat the outbreak is to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travels.
Novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The World Health Organization on Wednesday described the outbreak as a pandemic.
According to the latest reports, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has infected 134,818 people in 127 countries, claiming 4,984 lives.
Mainland China reported 21 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, putting the country’s total infections at 80,814 and a death toll of 3,177.
On Wednesday, the Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and universities have been extended for the next two weeks.
The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s north, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced last week that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.
Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.
He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.
Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.
He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.
According to Fars News Agency, Namaki said that the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached 22, and will increase to 40 soon.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran's response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.
The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.
The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.