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UK, France, Germany Send Iran Medical Supplies Using Trade Mechanism

Emergency medical staff and nurses wearing protective suits, help while transferring a patient with coronavirus (COVID-19) to Masih Daneshvari Hospital, in Tehran, March 30, 2020

Britain, France and Germany have used a special trading mechanism for the first time to send medical supplies to Iran in a way that does not violate U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

The German Foreign Ministry said on March 31 that the three countries sent supplies via Instex, the mechanism set up more than a year ago to allow legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran to offset some effects of the U.S. sanctions.

"France, Germany, and the United Kingdom confirm that Instex has successfully concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods from Europe to Iran. These goods are now in Iran," the German government said.

"Now that the first transaction is complete, Instex and its Iranian counterpart STFI will work on more transactions and enhancing the mechanism," it added.

Iranian authorities say Washington’s policies and sanctions have hampered its ability to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on March 31 that 3,111 new infections had been confirmed during the previous day, bringing the total to 44,606 cases in Iran.

Jahanpour said the death toll in Iran rose by 141 on March 31 to a total of 2,898.

Iran is among the countries worst hit by the virus. Experts have been skeptical about the accuracy of official figures released by the Iranian government, which keeps tight controls on local and foreign media.

The government has banned inter-city travel as it looked to slow the outbreak during the Persian New Year holiday that began on March 20. But Iran has not implemented a complete lockdown in cities -- a measure taken in many other countries worldwide.

Officials also have forbidden Iranians from gathering on April 1 for "Sizdah Bedar," an annual nature festival on the last day of Persian New Year celebrations during which many Iranians spend time picnicking outdoors.