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Iran asks IMF for $5bn in emergency funding to battle coronavirus as cases spike

The Central Bank of Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $5 billion emergency funding to fight a coronavirus pandemic as the number of infections keeps growing in the country.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Abdulnaser Hemmati, governor of the Central Bank, said he had written to the IMF’s head, Kristalina Georgieva, last week to stress Iran’s “right to benefit from the fund’s $50-billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).”

In the letter, the official highlighted the “widespread prevalence” of the virus — called COVID-19 — inside Iran and the need for the country to take measures to prevent further spread, treat the patients and counteract the economic aftermath of the disease.

“Given the size of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s quota in the fund, it calls for the use of the RFI fast financing facility of around $5 billion,” he added.

In a tweet on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also called on the IMF to extend support to Iran, who is a member state of the Washington-based lender.

Zarif said the IMF managing director “has stated that countries affected by #COVID19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument. Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately.”

IMF’s @KGeorgieva has stated that countries affected by #COVID19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument. Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately.

IMF/IMF Board should adhere to Fund’s mandate, stand on right side of history & act responsibly.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 12, 2020

The “IMF/IMF Board should adhere to fund’s mandate, stand on right side of history and act responsibly,” he said.

The outbreak — declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization — first emerged in China and is now spreading fast in other parts of the world.

Iran on Thursday reported 75 new deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll from the virus to 429.

“We have identified 1,075 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, meaning that there are 10,075 infected people in the country. The death toll is 429,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state television.

The illness, whose symptoms are fever, cough and difficulty breathing, may cause lung lesions and pneumonia.

Since December 2019, over 119,400 people have been infected in several countries, with 4,300 deaths mostly in China.

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