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Iran’s COVID-19 situation will greatly change in coming days: Health minister

Iran's health minister has said that the country’s international standing in regards to containing the coronavirus outbreak will “greatly change” in coming days.

“Due to advances in our diagnosis capability, we have been able to identify more COVID-19 cases in the country,” Saeed Namaki said late Thursday.

“Signs of their recovery will further emerge in the following days; this will completely transform Iran’s situation on the world stage,” he added.

Namaki made the comments while speaking on the sidelines of a video conference with officials of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

During the meeting, the WHO officials praised Iran’s anti-coronavirus initiative, known as the “national mobilization against the coronavirus”, and called for the application of Iran’s experience in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

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Under the country’s “national mobilization against the coronavirus” campaign, Iran has sought to conduct a nationwide examination to identify COVID-19 patients and manage its response against the outbreak.

In his remarks on Thursday, Namaki said that more than 90 percent of the initiative’s target population had been “covered”.

Namaki had said on Wednesday that over 67 million Iranians had been screened for the disease.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting with WHO officials, Namaki stressed that Iran’s “positive situation” among the countries in the eastern Mediterranean region was due to public cooperation.

The health minister added that Iran has yet to fully control the disease and that physical distancing restrictions imposed across the country will be extended as planned until next week.

According to the latest numbers released by Iran’s Health Ministry on Thursday, 50,468 Iranians have contracted the disease, 3,160 of which have lost their lives. Another 16,711 people have also recovered from the disease.

Iran, which is grappling with widespread US sanctions banning medical aid from reaching the country, has been among the worst affected by the disease.

The country’s ranking in the number of confirmed cases has, however, dropped from second place to the sixth over the past month.

The US sanctions have hampered Iran’s fight against the fast-spreading disease amid the UN’s failure to push for the lifting of the restrictions.

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On Tuesday, more than 30 members of the US Congress sent a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling for the suspension of sanctions against Iran amid the coronavirus fight in the country.

The US legislators, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Edward J. Markey and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar urged the Trump administration to step in with humanitarian aid rather than worsening the situation in Iran.

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Ministry reports 134 new deaths

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus rose on Friday to 3,294 as it claimed 134 lives in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur said.

The total number of people confirmed to be infected is 53,183, he said, adding that 4,035 ware “under observation”.

Of the total number of people who were diagnosed with the disease, 17,935 have recovered, he said. 

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