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Iran Army Launches Limited Anti-Epidemic Measures, As Rouhani Lashes Out At US

Admiral Mostafa Maddah, Head of Army Health, and Admiral Habbibollah Sayyari, Deputy Commander of Iran's regular Army, at a meeting of Bio-Defense Headquarters. March 23, 2020.

With the COVID-19 epidemic showing no signs of slowing down in Iran, the army on Monday announced a series of steps to show it is playing a notable role in confronting the coronavirus.

Iranian Army's biological Defense Headquarters says it is going to set up a makeshift hospice in Tehran within 48 hours for 2,000 Coronavirus patients to spend their recuperation period after they are discharged from hospitals.

This probably means the establishment has 2,000 beds for the patients to rest, but there is no medical equipment available.

Deputy Commander of the Iranian Army, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told reporters at a news conference in Tehran Monday morning March 23 that this is part of a drill by the army to assist with the fight against COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, Sayyari's Chief Commander Mohammad Baqeri had promised to launch major disease control operations, but he was never heard from again.

However, the army appears to be willing to do more to combat the spread of the virus. The commander of the South-eastern region of the Iranian army Brigadier General Memarbashi said on Monday that his units have set up 9 coronavirus test centers in Kerman Province and another 8 in Sistan and Baluchistan Province during the past days to help with the national endeavor to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Memarbashi said the test centers offer their screening services free of charge. People who go to the centers, will receive medical advice for problems other than COVID-19, but if they are infected with the virus and have respiratory problems, the centers will refer them to hospitals.

In the meantime, the spokesperson for the Iranian Health Ministry, Kianush Jahanpur, told the press Monday morning that 23,049 Iranians have contracted COVID-19 as of Monday morning.

The figure announced for Monday is 1,411 more than the figure for the previous day, meaning that the contagion is still on an ascending curve. In other words, the worst is still to come.

Meanwhile, 127 patients have died during the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll to 1,812, Jahanpur said.

These are the government’s official figures, but Radio Farda’s independent screening of Iran’s media and announcements by local officials puts the number of infections at 52,000, with more than 2,000 dead.

Jahanpur also added that so far, more than 36 million Iranians have been screened for the infection all over the country.

Jahanpur continued that 8,376 patients have recovered and returned to their families, however, he did not explain how the medical staff make sure those discharged from hospitals do not carry the virus.

He explained that the average age of those who catch the virus in Iran is 59, and the average age of those who died was 64, adding that most of those were male patients with underlying problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani also rejected the United States' aid offer saying, "It is a big lie that the United States wants to help Iran fight the coronavirus.," adding that "the United States is offering us a glass of muddy water while depriving us from our fresh-water resources."

He said, "the United States has imposed a series of oppressive, illegal and terroristic sanctions on the people of Iran." Rouhani was obviously referring to sanctions that are meant to bring Tehran to the negotiating table to discuss limiting its destabilizing military ambitions and adventurism in the region, its dangerous ballistic missile program and its nuclear program which have caused concern in the region and the world.

Rouhani said that America has created problems for the people of Iran by creating barriers for Iran's economy and banking system. He also accused the United States of being involved in "the biggest crimes in the region and in Iran."

On Sunday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei charged that the United States may have been involved in creating Coronavirus in order to do harm to Iran, although he failed to present any evidence to back the conspiracy theory.

Meanwhile, in an act elaborately initiated to probably please Khamenei, a deputy health Minister said on Sunday that the ministry will be conducting research to find out if as Khamenei said the virus has been designed to target Iranian's genes.