March 14, 2020 - Xi: China ready to help Iran fight COVID-19
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday agreed with a proposal to set up checkpoints to control oncoming traffic in 11 provinces amid the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
Rouhani said the proposal put forward by Health Minister Saeid Namaki at a teleconference with cabinet members is “useful” in curbing the spread of the virus in those hard-hit regions.
He said control teams should “act in a way that they do not cause traffic jam on the roads.”
Authorities yet to announce where the checkpoints will be set up.
The president stressed the need for “transparent, clear and detailed information” on the fight against the coronavirus and warned against attempts to shatter calm in society.
Namaki said Saturday he expects major breakthroughs in combating the virus before the Persian New Year next week. He said the country is about to launch a “national mobilization against the coronavirus”.
The program has already been launched in four provinces, seeking to identify infected individuals and quarantine them outside hospitals.
“Today, about 31,000 centers across the country are taking part in the program and we currently have 1,200 quick aid centers,” he said.
Namaki added that special restrictions related to anti-coronavirus efforts were decided at the latest meeting of a national task force against the coronavirus.
New virus deaths
The Health Ministry on Saturday said that the novel coronavirus has claimed 97 more lives, raising the country's total to 611, as the number of confirmed cases jumped again.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that "1,365 fresh cases have been added to the number of confirmed infections in the past 24 hours", bringing the total to 12,729.
Jahanpour told a televised news conference that more than 4,300 of those with confirmed infections had recovered so far.
The province of Tehran had the highest number of new cases with 347, followed by Isfahan with 155 and the northern region of Alborz with 134.
"Naturally, the number of confirmed cases will increase" even more as Iran steps up its laboratory sampling and tests, he said.
The outbreak in Iran is one of the deadliest outside of China, where the disease originated.
Since it announced the first deaths last month, Iran has shut schools, postponed events and discouraged travel ahead of Norouz, the country's New Year holidays.
It also closed mosques and religious shrines including the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBHU) in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
But despite those and other measures including the cancelation of the main weekly Friday prayers, the number of deaths and infections has continued to grow.
Iran's Leader on Thursday ordered the military to lead the battle against the outbreak.
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei instructed the security forces to bring their services together and expand efforts to combat the virus.
Acting on those orders, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri chaired a meeting on Friday.
Baqeri appeared in front of the cameras later to say a newly formed commission had been charged with overseeing the "emptying of shops, streets and roads" within the next 24 hours.
China offers assistance
Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will continue to provide as much assistance as it can to Iran for its fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a message of sympathy recently sent to President Rouhani, Xi said China stands ready to step up cooperation with Iran to contain the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Xi stressed that China and Iran are comprehensive strategic partners and the two peoples enjoy traditional friendship. The Iranian government and people have offered sincere and friendly support and assistance to China in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. To help Iran fight the epidemic, China has sent materials and medical experts to Iran.
Xi said he believes the Iranian government and people will surely win the battle against the epidemic.