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25 March 2020 - 17:13
News ID: 449740
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EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell warned that Iran is in very difficult conditions facing the US harsh sanctions and the coronavirus outbreak, saying that the block will send humanitarian aid to the country in the next few weeks.

RNA - Borrell said Monday the bloc is preparing to send 20 million euros worth of humanitarian aid to Iran and Venezuela in the coming weeks.

He added that Tehran and Caracas are both under swinging US sanctions aimed at starving their governments of income.

The US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have put the Islamic Republic in a very difficult situation amid the COVID-19 crisis, Borrell said.

He added that shipments of food, medicine and medical equipment to these countries should not be affected by the US sanctions.

It has to be reaffirmed because many believe that if they participate in this kind of humanitarian trade they can be sanctioned, the top diplomat said.

This is not the case, Borrell said, but it has to be reaffirmed in order for everybody to understand that they can participate in this kind of humanitarian help.

He further pointed to Tehran's request for financial help from the International Money Fund for its battle against the pandemic, and said Brussels will support this request.

Earlier this month, the Central Bank of Iran asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $5 billion emergency funding to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting over 180 countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 16,500 people and infected over 381,000 others globally.

Iran reported on Monday that a total number of 1,812 coronavirus patients have died and 23,049 cases of infection have been identified in the country so far. Meanwhile, 8,376 people have also recovered.

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 earlier this month 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.

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.

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