Official: Iran Investigating Possibility of Coronavirus Epidemic as Biological Attack
TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian official said on Monday that the country’s researchers and intelligence experts are investigating claims that the coronavirus outbreak in Iran was the result of a biological attack.
“This hypothesis is being thoroughly investigated and the possibility of the coronavirus being a biological attack has not been ruled out,” General Nasrollah Fathian who is in charge of coordinating executive operations at the National Coronavirus Campaign Headquarters said on Monday.
“This is being examined from a medical and intelligence point of view. So far, we do not possess compelling evidence that can prove this hypothesis, but will announce any new finding in this regard,” he said.
“There is even speculation that this virus has been created to specifically target the Iranian population given their genetic traits. But for now, these theories are all being examined,” General Fathian explained.
He noted that 20 mobile hospitals were available that could be settled swiftly in any place demanded by the Health Ministry.
According to the official, 4,000 of the total 6,000 military hospital beds have already been allocated for the treatment of corona patients, the majority of whom are civilians.
The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting over 170 countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 14,900 people and infected over 343,000 others globally.
Iran reported on Monday that a total number of 1,812 coronavirus patients have died and 23,049 cases of infection have been identified in the country so far. Meanwhile, 8,376 people have also recovered.
The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
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.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced earlier this month 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.