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Iran Press TV

Iran rallies to produce crucial supplies as US retains sanctions despite coronavirus

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 05 April 2020 8:47 AM

Iran will increase the production of protective masks for coronavirus relief to 4 million per day by the end of this month, Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani says.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Iran had an overall capacity to manufacture 700,000 masks per day, the minister said, adding Iran's production of sanitizers has also risen eight-fold.

Iran is the worse-hit country in the Middle East amid a draconian sanctions regime which the United States has been tightening since the virus outbreak.

That means Iran has to rely on its own resources to cope with the crisis, so it does. Since its outbreak, the coronavirus has united and mobilized the country to help bring the scourge under check.

Presenting the latest update on Sunday, Iran's Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour reported 2,483 new infections and 151 more deaths from the virus over the past 24 hours.

In total, 58,226 Iranians have tested positive for COVID-19 while 3,603 have died, he pointed out, adding 22,011 patients have fully recovered so far

On Saturday, a new artificial intelligence-based COVID-19 diagnosis system was unveiled by government officials in Tehran.

"We have also been able to develop a new method with new technology in the field of artificial intelligence in order to detect the disease," explained Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari.

The new system, he said, should bring a "new perspective" to the diagnosis and treatment of the virus."

The CT-scan based new method comes as the country has reported a shortage of radiologists.

Officials say the situation is stabilizing across Iran as comprehensive screening and testing programs and other necessary measures are taken to rein in the virus spread.

One area of concern, however, is the greater Tehran area where some residents have been flouting advisories to stay home, crowding streets and causing traffic jams across the city as the country's New Year holidays ended on Saturday.

"We are still concerned about the virus, for example with the level of traffic in Tehran today and queues of cars stuck on freeways, because these people can take the virus to their homes or workplaces," Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said, who has himself recovered from COVID-19.

The official dismissed the US offer of aid to Iran in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic as "nonsensical" as he visited one of Iran's largest shopping malls transformed into a center to treat coronavirus patients.

Iran Mall in west Tehran, which is one of the world's largest commercial complexes, has been fitted with ventilators, health monitoring systems and hundreds of hospital beds.

In a rare commentary published in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi said US sanctions are crippling Iran's fight against the coronavirus.

"As a result (of sanctions), the ability of my colleagues and I to provide the health, logistical and other essential infrastructure necessary to combat the disease has been drastically reduced. We experience this loss every day, and it can be counted in people that would not have died," Hanachi said.

Hanachi said that the lives of many Iranians are lost every day as the US restrictions have deprived them of medicines and protective equipment they need to fight the virus.

The Trump administration's refusal to halt its economic warfare against Iran is directly impeding our efforts to deal with a virus which knows no borders, he said.

"The US embargo not only prohibits American companies and individuals from conducting lawful trade with Iranian counterparts, but given that the sanctions are extra-territorial, all other countries and companies are also bullied into refraining from doing legitimate business with Iranians, even the selling of medicines," said Hanachi.

He blasted the US administration for its unjust treatment of Iran. "The outcome of such irresponsible policies and behavior is not limited to Iran; they have also inflicted harm on the American public."

Hanachi underlined the significance of collective international efforts in reducing injustice and inequality beyond national and racial boundaries or "global crises will continue to indiscriminately endanger every country in the world".

Iranian officials, world bodies and politicians have called for the removal of US sanctions on Iran to help the country fight off the spread of the virus.

Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN office in Geneva Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh said on Friday that the US medical sanctions constituted an "unprecedented threat" to global public health, urging the international community to react in earnest to Washington's restrictions.

In a letter to Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Baqaei Hamaneh said the imposition of cruel and illegal sanctions on Iran, which has resulted in the ordinary Iranian people being denied access to medicine and medical equipment and services, clearly exemplifies a crime against humanity.

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