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US has to ‘depoliticize’ virus-related efforts, lift sanctions: Iran’s UN envoy

The Iranian envoy to the United Nations has called on the US to lift sanctions on the country and to “depoliticize” its approach toward efforts related to containing the coronavirus outbreak.

“High time for US to de-politicize this humanitarian endeavor and lift sanctions. International crises necessitate genuine international efforts,” Majid Takht-Ravanchi tweeted on Friday.

Returned to NY from Tehran last night. People and government of Iran working hard to defeat #Covid_19, but US sanctions impeding their efforts.

High time for US to de-politicize this humanitarian endeavor and lift sanctions. Int’l crises necessitate genuine int’l efforts.— Majid Takht Ravanchi (@TakhtRavanchi) March 13, 2020

“People and government of Iran working hard to defeat Covid-19, but US sanctions are impeding their efforts,” he said.

The US has imposed sweeping sanctions targeting all sectors of Iran ever since it withdrew from the Iran 2015 landmark nuclear agreement in May 2018.

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The bans deny Iran vital medical aid despite an October 2018 ruling by the International Court of Justice, demanding that the US lift sanctions on humanitarian supplies.

Iran said Friday its Foreign Minsister Mohammad Javad Zarif has written to the UN, calling for the illegal US sanctions hampering Iran’s fight against the coronavirus to be lifted.

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‘National Mobilization’

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Saturday Iran expects major breakthroughs in its fight against the virus before the Persian New Year next week. He said the country is about to launch “national mobilization against the coronavirus”.

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The program has already been launched in four provinces, seeking to identify infected individuals and quarantine them outside hospitals.

“Today, about 31,000 centers across the country are taking part in the program and we currently have 1,200 quick aid centers,” he said.

Namaki added that special restrictions related to anti-coronavirus efforts were decided at the latest meeting of a national task force against the coronavirus and that the details would be announced later in the day.

Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of the public relations and information center of the Iranian Ministry of Health, said Saturday the new coronavirus has claimed 97 lives in the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 611.

Jahanpour said that 1,365 fresh cases have been added to the number of confirmed infections during the period, bringing the total to 12,729.

More than 4,300 of those with confirmed infections have recovered so far, he added.

Tehran province had the highest number of new cases with 347, followed by Isfahan with 155 and the northern region of Alborz with 134.

“Naturally, the number of confirmed cases will increase” even more as Iran steps up its laboratory sampling and tests, he said.

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