MSF sends aid to Iran as deaths top 1,800

Tehran, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- Iran said Monday it is expanding its hospital capacity and has received help from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to fight the coronavirus pandemic with more than 1,800 deaths and 23,000 infections in the country.

Kianush Jahanpur, a health ministry spokesman, said that in the last 24 hours 1,411 new cases had been recorded and 127 people had died.

He added that 8,376 patients had survived the disease and around 36 million Iranians had undergone health assessments by telephone or online.

Habibollah Sayyari, coordinating deputy of the Iranian army, said Monday at a press conference that the military was going to construct a hospital with 2,000 beds to treat coronavirus patients.

The army has been told to select an appropriate location in the capital Tehran to build the medical centre.

Iranian state television broadcast images on Sunday of a hospital being set up in the largest shopping center in the city, but Sayyari did not say if he was referring to that one or not.

Armed forces have said that 52 of the country’s 58 military hospitals were treating Covid-19 patients in a bid to ease the strain on Iran’s health system.

Humanitarian medical organisation MSF said it was in the process of establishing a treatment unit for critically ill patients with Covid-19 in the central city of Isfahan.

The treatment centre has 50 beds and will be installed in the Amin Hospital complex in the city, according to MSF.

MSF also said it had dispatched an emergency team consisting of nine doctors and intensive care specialists to Iran.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and several countries, such as China, France, Qatar and the United Emirates, have also sent shipments of medical aid to Tehran, including specialist masks, protective suits and diagnostic equipment.

The shortages and the critical situation in Iran have led several countries such as China, Russia and Pakistan to ask the United States to end its sanctions against the country, but Washington has said it had no intention of relaxing its strict policy.

Iranian diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the US in a tweet on Monday and said: “Iranian people appreciate the growing global campaign of government and civil society leaders calling for lifting of illegal US sanctions.

“US is NOT listening, impeding global fight against #COVID19.

“The ONLY remedy: DEFY US mass punishment. MORAL and PRAGMATIC imperative.”

The coronavirus outbreak emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province, in December and has spread around the world.

It has been declared a pandemic by the WHO, with 350,000 global infections, of which 100,000 have recovered, and more than 15,000 deaths in 177 countries. EFE-EPA


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