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Tehran Asks US to Release Iranian Prisoners due to Coronavirus Fears

Tehran on Wednesday called on Washington to free the Iranian nationals held in the US jails due to concerns about their infection to coronavirus.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi made the remarks in a press conference in Tehran via video conference.

His remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Iran to release all American prisoners held in the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mousavi said that Iran has the same concern about its nationals held in the US prisons.

“Given the turbulent situation in the US that we are witnessing, the hygiene situation of their prisons is a source of concern,” he added.

“We are ready to repatriate these (the Iranian) hostages who are there (in the US) without any evidence or proof raised at the court,” Mousavi said.

He expressed the hope that the Americans pay serious attention to the health conditions of the Iranian prisoners.

Several dozen Iranians are being held in US prisons, many of them for allegations of breaking sanctions.

More than 119,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with over 4,300 deaths so far, the vast majority of them in China where the virus originated late last year.

The coronavirus is spreading in the Middle East, Europe, US and other parts of the world, while parts of China begin to lower their emergency response level as the number of new cases reported there continues to slow.

Authorities across the United States reported over 1,000 cases of coronavirus and 31 deaths as of Tuesday.

More than 60 million people in Italy have been placed under lockdown after the government extended emergency measures across the entire country in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Italy is struggling to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, which has claimed 631 lives and infected over 10,000 people.

On Tuesday, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran rose to 291 with 8,042 confirmed cases.

Some 2,700 patients infected by the coronavirus have so far recovered from the disease in Iran.

As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and universities have been extended for the next two weeks.

The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s north, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced last week that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.

Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.

He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.

Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.

He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.

Namaki said that the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached 22, and will increase to 40 soon.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran’s response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.

The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.

The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.

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