Iran determined to control coronavirus outbreak as cases rise

By Bao Xiaolong Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/24 12:33:40

The coronavirus outbreak in the holy city of Qom has been brought under control, and backup support hospitals with 400 beds have been made ready, Iran's Health Ministry told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Sina Karami, a 29-year-old Iranian, is ready to deliver packed coffee to medical workers. (Picture provided by Sina Karami)

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that besides two designated hospitals dedicated to patients with new coronavirus pneumonia in Qom, there are also two backup support hospitals.

Meanwhile. the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic continues to spread in Iran. The Iranian Ministry of Health confirmed 15 new cases on Sunday, bringing total confirmed cases to 43. One patient was diagnosed after death, bringing the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 to eight.

There are 758 suspected cases nationwide. The Iranian government has announced the temporary closure of schools in 10 provinces, including Tehran. The closure policy is also being implemented in public places such as stadiums and cinemas. 

The weekly press conference of the Iranian Foreign Ministry has been cancelled. Starting from Sunday, primary and secondary schools and kindergartens in Tehran and other provinces will be temporarily closed.

The Iranian rial exchange rate began to fall sharply on Saturday, nearly hitting a new one-year low, with a drop of 7 percent in two days. 

"The Iranian government has taken effective measures. Iran has a very good medical system and has designated hospitals and fever clinics in each city," Jahanpour emphasized. 

"The outbreak is preventable and controllable," he said, urging the public not to panic.

Among the confirmed cases of COVID-19, many were from Qom. 

In an interview with the Global Times on Sunday, Jahanpour said that the outbreak in Qom has been brought under control. 

There are a total of nine designated hospitals in Tehran, with multiple backup hospitals. He emphasized that although the number of confirmed cases is increasing, the Iranian government is determined to control and manage the outbreak. Iran has mobilized all its forces, and the Ministry of Health has put forward the slogan "We will defeat the coronavirus" to guide and educate the people.

However, prices for masks are rising and they have become difficult to buy, with some vendors in Iran selling fake masks. The Iranian government said that masks will be distributed free of charge and it will take measures to punish those who illegally hoard protective materials such as mask and disinfection liquid. Iranian police have stressed that fake videos and rumors spread about the outbreak will be seriously punished.

There were rumors that suggested the source of the Iranian outbreak might be a Chinese person who worked in Qom and returned to China, leading to increased hostility among some residents against the Chinese people. 

Jahanpour said it is not yet certain who the source of the infection is, adding that it may be a Chinese, an Iranian businessman who has been to China, or someone from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries, as Qom is a religious holy city with many pilgrims. The city is also an economic and industrial center where many businessmen work. 

The Iranian Ministry of Health has sent two expert teams to Qom to try and determine the route of transmission, he said.

Posted in: MID-EAST

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