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Deputy health min.: Iran ready to help US control coronavirus pandemic

An Iranian deputy health minister says the Islamic Republic is prepared to help the United States bring the fast-spreading new coronavirus under control in light of the American health system’s shortcomings and cover-up in the face of the pandemic.

“Iran is ready to help America control coronavirus,” Ali-Reza Raeisi told a press conference via video-link on Thursday, IRNA reported.

“The United States’ health care system is incapable of controlling the coronavirus epidemic,” he noted, adding, “Not that we take delight in the US’ incompetence [in the area]. As a Muslim country, we do not take delight in anyone’s ailment,” the official added.

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Raeisi emphasized that if there is anywhere in the world, where information related to the pandemic is being covered up, “that would be the US.”

He regretted that US President Donald Trump’s administration had monopolized release of information about the new virus, barring all other parties from announcing statistics and reporting on the matter. This is while the statistics pointing to the extent of the outbreak in Iran is on the World Health Organization’s website for all to see, he said.

The official also compared the virus response in the Islamic Republic to that of the European countries, especially Italy, where the pandemic has taken its biggest worldwide toll after China.

A day earlier, President Hassan Rouhani likewise compared the marked quality of Iran’s performance in the face of the outbreak to that of some major Western countries.

Addressing a cabinet session, the president recalled how his administration endeavored to not allow the Iranian people to feel any shortage of staples, especially food and sanitary items, in the wake of the outbreak.

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“Compare Tehran to London, Berlin, and Paris… See for yourselves what is going on there. Shop racks have been emptied and people got into a fight over a roll of toilet paper,” Rouhani said, adding, “The people there are concerned about foodstuffs and their hospitals say they have run out of beds.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Raeisi pointed to the US’ repeated claims of preparedness for assisting Iran against the virus.

Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have, on several occasions, extended a self-proclaimed helping hand, with the top American diplomat accusing the Iranian medical system of suffering from weakness in the battle against the new virus.

Most recently, Pompeo told the Sean Hannity Show radio program on Wednesday that the US was “working diligently to create better conditions” for Iranians, and “make sure that we’re available to provide humanitarian assistance when we can.”

Washington, he added, had also offered to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Iran “from UN organizations, from other countries as well.”

Raeisi, however, said if the US genuinely sought to help Iran out, it should lift its sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and make up for its cover-up of the information that relate to the virus.

Raeisi also proposed that Trump and Pompeo should instead try to prove their humanitarian posturing by volunteering to receive trial shots of the coronavirus vaccine, which could be a great help to humanity.

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Iran is battling the coronavirus as it has been under the harshest ever sanctions by the US, which were reimposed against the country after Washington left a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.

After leaving the landmark nuclear deal, Washington then began forcing others to toe its sanctions line. Britain, France, and Germany have stopped their transactions with the Islamic Republic, bowing under the pressure.

In late January, the United States and Switzerland announced the launch of a channel to ship food and medicine to Iran from the Scandinavian country.

Washington alleges that it has exempted foodstuffs and medicine from its anti-Iran sanctions, something that Tehran rejects as a “brazen” lie as the bans have deterred several foreign banks from doing any business with Tehran.

Iran has written to the United Nations and all international organizations, urging the removal of the draconian measures that have come in the way of the country’s fight against the virus.

So far, the new virus has claimed 1,284 lives in Iran and infected more than 18,000 others.

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