The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has once again rejected the United States offer to help Tehran control the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Khamenei called the U.S. government "the most vicious enemy of the Islamic Republic," adding "They are lying, brazen, avaricious charlatans, and cruel, merciless terrorists."
Meanwhile, he reiterated that the United States has been accused of having created the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump and other U.S. official offered to send medical aid to Tehran but various Iranian officials including Khamenei rejected the offer.
Speaking in Tehran on Sunday March 22, Khamenei said, "The U.S. government has declared a few times that they are ready to help Iran with medicines to fight the coronavirus outbreak. That's strange. Firstly, based on the words of your own officials, you face shortages in the U.S. So, use what you have for your own patients."
He added: "You're accused of having created coronavirus. I don't know how true it is. But when there's such an allegation, can a wise man trust you? You could be giving medicines that spread the virus or cause it to remain [in the country]. Experience shows you can’t be trusted and you do such things."
Khamenei said in the version aired by the Iranian state TV that “the virus may have been partly designed to target Iran."
Every year the Supreme Leader delivers his main speech in the religious city of Mashhad, but this year due to the epidemic, he chose to stay in Tehran.
Meanwhile as the Iranian Health Ministry has announced the latest figures of the epidemic, Khamenei offered his prayers to the people of the world.
"Everyone should observe the guidelines of the National Committee for Combating Corona, God willing. Even religious gatherings have been cancelled in Iran, which is unprecedented in our history. But it's unavoidable. May God remove this disease from all the people of the world," Khamenei's official website quoted him as having said.
According to the Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur, the number of COVID-19 patients in Iran has reached 21,638 on Sunday with 1,028 new infections during the past 24 hours including 249 in Tehran where the largest number of patients are.
He added that the official Coronavirus death toll in Iran reached 1,685 on Sunday as 129 people affected by the virus died during the past day.
He also said that so far 7,913 patients have been discharged from hospitals upon their recovery.
Various news sources have challenged the official figures. According to an exclusive report, data gathered by Radio Farda from various national and local media in Iran quoting local authorities and Health Ministry officials indicate that the coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll in the country is at least 660 more than the officially announced tally on March 21. The same report said 47,000 people are infected, more than double the official figure.
In another development, as alcohol has been readily available everywhere in Iran as a disinfectant, according to Jahanpur, 244 Iranians have died during recent days because of drinking the wrong kind of alcohol. Jahanpur said that users were misled to believe that drinking alcohol can cure COVID-19.
Responding to a question by an ISNA reporter about quarantine, he said the third level of quarantine is being practiced in Iran which includes voluntary self-isolation and closure of workplaces by employers.
He added that the next level is imposing martial law which is banned by the Iranian Constitution. So, no more limitations can be imposed on the people's social interactions.
The Iranian government resisted imposing quarantines at least where the virus had widely spread. This led to a nation-wide epidemic and a major of criticism by the opposition, some experts and ordinary citizens.
In the meantime, Hamid Reza Goudarzi the deputy governor of Tehran announced on Saturday that starting from Sunday all shopping centers in Tehran will be closed and only supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open to serve customers.
In another development, the spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Bahram Qassemi, has confirmed that Doctors Without Borders have sent a chartered flight to Iran to offer medical equipment and set up a makeshift hospital to help Iran fight COVID-19.