General Nasrollah Fathian, in charge of coordinating executive operations at the National Headquarters to Fight the Coronavirus, made the remark on Monday, adding, “This hypothesis is being thoroughly investigated and the possibility of the coronavirus being a biological attack has not been ruled out.”
He told a news briefing via video link, “This is being examined from a medical and intelligence point of view. So far, we do not possess compelling evidence that can prove this hypothesis, but will announce any new finding in this regard,” he said.
“There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined,” he explained.
Fathian noted that 20 mobile hospitals were available that could be settled swiftly in any place demanded by the Health Ministry.
According to the official, 4,000 of the total 6,000 military hospital beds have already been allocated for the treatment of corona patients, the majority of whom are civilians.
Nationwide, a total of 875 hospitals and 150,000 medical personnel are dealing with the ongoing health crisis, Fathian stated.
Strict hygienic measures are in place in military barracks where there have been no reports of the corona outbreak, he said, adding that most barracks have been evacuated or minimized their operations.
Death toll rises in Iran
Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Monday that the number of coronavirus deaths had increased to 1,812 and the total infections to 23,049 during the past 24 hours.
“There have been 127 new deaths and 1,411 new infections since Sunday,” he said.
Jahanpour further put the number of patients who have recovered from the viral disease at 8,376.
Army to create 2,000-bed hospital in 48 hours
The Coordinating Deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, said the Army has been tasked to locate and convert a proper facility to a 2000-bed make-shift hospital for coronavirus patients within 48 hours.
Rear Admiral Sayyari pointed out that once accomplished, this project will demonstrate the domestic defense capacity against probable biological warfare.
Army forces have been helping disinfect hospitals, religious places and other urban environments since the start of the outbreak, he said.
32 Army hospitals are already being used to help provide the required services, he said, adding that two large field hospitals have been set up in the cities of Qom and Rasht, which have the largest clusters of corona cases.
The former Navy commander also noted that Army forces have been deployed to 200 locations across the county to detect and prevent suspected ill travelers from entering cities.
Red Crescent: 6,500 Nowruz travelers had symptoms
Acting Chief of the Iranian Red Crescent Society Karim Hemmati said 2.8 million cars carrying 8.5 million people exited 19 provinces across Iran in the past few days prior to and during the Persian New Year (March 20).
The government has not enforced travel restrictions or placed cities under lockdown but Iranian people have been strongly advised against taking nonessential road trips during the two-week Nowruz holidays.
Karimi said 6,500 of the travelers showed fever or other symptoms of infection during the health screening process. He did not however elaborate on what course of action was taken to approach the suspected cases.
He said the Red Crescent Society has 2,600 rehab beds at its disposal that can be used for the recovered corona patients in case hospitals run out of beds.