While Iran’s death toll from coronavirus reached almost 2,000, Iranian officials reportedly rejected the help from ‘foreign forces’ to deal with the deadly virus. According to international media reports, Iran rejected the help from France-based medical charity and charged that Doctors Without Border (MSF) staff would serve as ‘spies’. Iran’s advisor to health ministry also took to Twitter and wrote that as of now it is ‘not necessary’ for foreign forces to set up hospital beds.
Alireza Vahabzadeh, the advisor, said, “Due to Iran's national mobilisation against the virus and the full use of the medical capacity of the armed forces, it is not necessary for now for hospital beds to be set up by foreign forces, and their presence is ruled out”.
While speaking to an international media outlet, MSF reportedly said that they had planned to send nine-member team and equipment to set-up a 50-bed hospital. They added that they had even obtained necessary permissions from the Iranian authorities and voiced its ‘incomprehensive’ at its offer of help being rejected. As per reports, two cargo planes had also arrived in Tehran carrying the necessary equipment to build the facility and an ‘international team of nine people’ and arrived in Esfahan.
Currently, Iran has more than 24,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and the deadly virus has claimed more than 1,900 lives in the country. However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has defended its government’s efforts to stem the spread of the fatal virus and said that despite not announcing a lockdown, the government as ‘intervened significantly’ and stopped the disease from spreading. Rouhani said that ‘some ask why the government isn’t intervening’ but he further added, ‘I think we have intervened significantly’.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights chief called for ease of sanctions on Iran and other countries to support the lives of millions of people during Coronavirus pandemic. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on March 24 that the broad sectoral sanctions should urgently be re-evaluated in countries which are facing serious challenges due to the novel Coronavirus.
Bachelet, who has also served as President of Chile, gave the example of Iran which has reported over 1,900 deaths and facing crippling sanctions from the United States. She underlined the impact of sectoral sanctions on access to essential medicines and medical equipment. She added that a variety of sanctions may also impede medical efforts in Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.