Iran Armed Forces rush to health sector’s aid as COVID-19 rages on

Acting on an order by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Armed Forces have offered the health sector full access to their health facilities and other medical equipment as coronavirus cases rise sharply in Tehran and other cities across the country.

Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, the spokesman of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said in a statement on Friday that all units of the elite military force had received an order to offer health services to those diagnosed with COVID-19 (the disease caused by the virus) across the country.

He said all of the IRGC’s health centers, makeshift hospitals and Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences would be mobilized to provide assistance to the patients “with new inclusive and operational arrangements,” as instructed by IRGC Chief Commander Major General Hossein Salami.

Meanwhile, groups of volunteer Basij forces were also tasked with speeding up their countrywide campaign to contain the fast-spreading disease by supplying people with preventive equipment such as face masks and disinfectants.

Similarly, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the coordinating deputy of Iran’s Army, announced in a statement that “all the health services of the Armed Forces will be at the disposal of the National Headquarters to Fight the Coronavirus and the [entire people].”

The Army’s Ground Force, Navy and Air Force will thus employ all their health facilities and medical equipment to help treat those infected with COVID-19 “with a new planning and in line with a rising need” for such services nationwide, Sayyari added.

“The Armed Forces have the quality of being able to get prepared at a moment’s notice. We stand ready to enhance our healthcare capacities in the shortest time possible to provide services to the country’s honorable people,” he said.

The statements were issued a day after Ayatollah Khamenei issued an order to that effect to Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri as health authorities have been warning of  shortages of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

Over the past days, coronavirus cases have been experiencing a sharp spike across Iran, particularly in Tehran, which some officials say is currently grappling with a third large wave of infections.

The Iranian Health Ministry on Friday registered 4,142 new coronavirus infections, taking the total reported count in the country — the worst-hit in the Middle East — to 492,378.

The outbreak has up to now taken 28,098 lives in Iran, up by 210 in the last 24 hours, stated Sima Sadat Lari, the ministry’s spokeswoman, during her daily meeting.

From Saturday, wearing face masks will become compulsory in public in the capital. Residents of Tehran had already been required to wears masks in public indoors since July.

On October 3, the national coronavirus task force ordered the closure of schools, libraries, mosques, seminaries, libraries in Tehran were shut down for a week. Libraries, museums, theatres, gyms, cafes and hair salons in the capital were also affected by the decision.

The curbs in the capital were earlier on Friday extended until October 14.

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani said all organizations and private businesses that offer services to people without wearing face masks will face penalties.

He also warned that severe penalties also await those hiding their sickness and the people who engage in potentially high-risk activities, including interacting with the sick, and then fail to undergo a test or quarantine themselves.

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