As the number of confirmed cases in Iran are increasing rapidly, European nations have reportedly delivered medical goods to the country. The help of the Europeans marked the first transaction under the Instex mechanism set up to evade American sanctions on Tehran. Iran is one of the worst-hit nations in the world as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 44,000 on March 31.
On Tuesday, the German foreign ministry said in a statement, “France, Germany and the United Kingdom confirm that INSTEX has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran. These goods are now in Iran”.
Earlier this month, according to reports, the United Nations chief had called for ‘urgent re-evaluation’ of sanctions imposed on countries like Iran in the wake of the pandemic and prevent medical systems from collapsing. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet reportedly said that during these challenging times as the highly contagious virus continues to tighten its grip around the world, ‘sectoral sanctions should be eased’ for both humanitarian and global public health reasons. Iran has also urged the international community to ease the sanctions and was reportedly seeking a loan worth $5 billion from the International Monetary Fund.
Meanwhile, Iran is also bracing for tougher measures with possible curbs on movement. Iran's first Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri in a televised public address said that “if necessary, we might impose tougher measures as out priority is the nation’s safety and health”. In a bid to contain the virus outbreak and after weeks of refraining themselves from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran also decided on March 25 to ban all intercity travel until at least till April 8.
Without imposing an official lockdown, the authorities urged people to stay at home ‘as much as possible’. Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country. On a positive note, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that "in some provinces, we have passed the peak of the epidemic and are on a downward trajectory”.
Coronavirus in Iran hit the highest political ranks in government with several officials and figures being diagnosed with the novel disease. Iran's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who was one of the foremost affected government officials has returned to public life now. In the most recent cases, the brother of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was affected.