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Rouhani: Iran’s health infrastructure ready for possible COVID-19 spike

President Hassan Rouhani has said that Iran's health infrastructure is strong enough and prepared to counter a possible rise in COVID-19 cases.

“Our health infrastructure is strong; not only has it endured the present circumstances, but our doctors and nurses are ready for a possible spike,” Rouhani said on Saturday.

Speaking at the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus, the president said Iran has managed to avoid crises faced by other countries, such as shortages in food and critical medical supplies.

“Thankfully everything is working out together; our oil refineries and oil wells, our power stations, our water treatment centers across the country and our national transport system are ready and active,” he said.

Rouhani added that the government covers 90 percent of coronavirus-related costs, pointing that patients in certain countries need to pay up to 1,500 dollars to receive similar services.

20% of state budget allocated to virus fight

The president also announced that Iran has allocated 20 percent of its budget for the new Persian year of 1399 to countering the coronavirus pandemic.

“This measure might surprise the world as we are currently under sanctions, along with the fact that our hospitals are well-equipped and our medical personal have high spirits,” Rouhani said.

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Grappling with the coronavirus outbreak, Iran is facing sweeping American sanctions targeting every aspect of the Iranian economy.

Many world leaders, figures and groups have called on the US to suspend the sanctions that have negatively impacted Iran’s efforts to curb the outbreak.

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Washington, however, has rejected the calls, denying recent reports that it seeks to scale back sanctions against Iran.

Iran has sought to counter US bans restricting much needed aid by stepping up the development of its own necessary medical equipment and supplies.

On Saturday, Iran unveiled a mobile coronavirus test vehicle. The vehicle can carry up to 200 laboratory samples and provide diagnosis results within three hours.

Iran has also started producing its own coronavirus test kits. A second variety of the test kit is also under development.

Tehran previously had to rely on imported test kits to diagnose coronavirus patients.

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Health Ministry lays out new guidelines 

Speaking on Saturday, Rouhani also said the Health Ministry has issued new guidelines seeking to cut the infection chain of the coronavirus, imposing two weeks of quarantine on all individuals diagnosed with the virus.

“We are currently discussing possible measures for individuals that do not comply,” he said, adding that the Society and Security Committee of the anti-coronavirus headquarters would decide on the matter later in the day.

The president added that a previous social distancing initiative banning travel between cities will continue until at least late next week, stressing the need for public cooperation on the matter.

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Also speaking on Saturday, Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said the government may step up preventative restrictions if needed.

“We won’t need to do so if we witness a fall in the number of victims; we will reduce the restrictions and this requires the cooperation of the public,” he added.

Nearly 12,000 Iranians recover from COVID-19

Based on the latest statement provided by the Health Ministry on Saturday, 35,408 individuals have been confirmed to be infected with the disease, 2,517 of whom have lost their lives. As many as 11,679 individuals have also recovered from the virus.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 3,076 more cases had been confirmed in the past 24 hours and 139 more people had died during the period.

“The condition of 3,026 of those hospitalised is critical in one way or another,” he said, adding that 57 million Iranians had been screened for the virus.  

The data received has been “significant” and has helped with early detection and intervention, Jahanpour said.

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