Tehran, Mar 26 (efe-epa).- The Iranian government has asked Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for permission to mobilize $1 billion to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Iranian authorities claim to have the spread of Covid-19 relatively under control but fear there could be a second wave of the disease.
Of particular concern is the pandemic’s effect on Iran’s already battered economy.
The country has scarce reserves which limits the volume of aid packages it can offer its population.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday he had written to the Ayatollah to request access to the National Development Fund.
Rouhani wants to inject $1 billion into the healthcare system, the state-run news agency reported.
“We need this budget for hospital equipment and to finance the cost of health care and treatment,” Rouhani said.
Iran is also plagued by US sanctions that hinder its access to medicines and medical equipment internationally.
Tehran has asked Washington to end its policy of maximum pressure while the country grapples with the health coronavirus.
The World Health Organization and many countries have sent Tehran shipments of medical aid with face masks, protective suits and diagnostic equipment.
The latest aid package was sent by China and Thailand on Thursday. The Asian nations delivered shipments to the Iranian embassies in their respective countries.
Rouhani insisted that the situation in Iran was “better than that of many countries in the world, despite being under pressure from sanctions.”
Iran has the advantage of being relatively self-sufficient after years of hefty sanctions.
Authorities, including the armed services, have set up numerous factories to produce the protective materials and equipment and have even developed a coronavirus diagnostic kit locally.
In recent days, authorities have also tightened control measures to contain the spread of the virus by closing shopping centres, bazaars and parks.
Checkpoints have also been installed in the entrances and exits of cities to enforce a new rule that came into place on Thursday that bans the unnecessary movement of people.
So far the deadly virus has claimed 2,234 lives and left more than 29,000 people infected.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Health Kianush Jahanpur reported on Thursday that 2,389 new infections had been recorded, of which 157 had died. The data was similar to that of the previous day.
According to figures from the Ministry of Health, since the first cases were diagnosed five weeks ago, 10,457 patients have recovered.EFE-EPA