A plane belonging to Mahan Airlines left Tehran with a team of infectious disease doctors and special emergency response medics early Tuesday, adviser to the Iranian health minister Alireza Vahabzadeh told IRNA news agency.
There are 70 Iranian students in Wuhan. They will be flown home on Wednesday and quarantined for 14 days in a special hospital in Tehran, Vahabzadeh said.
On Monday, head of the Affiliation Center for Disease Control of Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education Mohammad Mehdi Gouya said no Iranian student in Wuhan has been infected with the coronavirus.
Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said flights to China had been suspended after several lawmakers complained that Mahan Airlines was continuing to fly to the Asian country.
Jafarzadeh said possible flights to China were being conducted in coordination with the ministry of health to transport Iranians residing in China and Chinese residing in Iran.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that Iran was willing to work together with China to combat the epidemic caused by the coronavirus.
Zarif also lauded the Chinese government for taking “timely and resolute measures in a responsible and transparent manner” to fight the epidemic, saying they have prevented not only a deterioration of the outbreak within China but also across the world.
The minister said Iran has provided China with some urgently needed medical supplies, and stands ready to offer more assistance.
Wang thanked Iran for providing China with medical supplies at the critical moment of epidemic prevention and control. He also praised Zarif as the first foreign minister publicly voicing support for China, saying it showed the friendship of the two nations, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese foreign minister said his country has established a nationwide system to fight the epidemic, stressing that Beijing has full confidence and ability to win the fight against the virus.
Zarif said Iran also believes China will overcome the epidemic. He said the Islamic Republic firmly opposes some Western countries’ attempt to exploit the situation.
China on Monday accused the United States of whipping up panic over the coronavirus with travel restrictions and evacuations.
Washington has “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) had advised against trade and travel curbs.
“It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations,” she added, saying countries should make reasonable, calm and science-based judgments.
China’s ambassador for disarmament at the United Nations in Geneva, Li Song, said the international community needed to treat the new virus outbreak objectively, fairly and not “deliberately create panic” among the general public.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” in trying to halt the spread of the virus.
“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent,” Tedros told the WHO executive board.