Iran Health Official Slams UK For Hijacking 3M Masks

Story ByLee Bullen,Sub EditorJoseph Golder,AgencyCentral European News

Iran’s deputy health minister has slammed the UK for ‘hijacking’ three million face masks earmarked for Tehran.

Iranian Deputy Health Minister for Treatment Qassem Janbabayee said the UK “hijacked” the mask shipments after being pre-ordered by the Islamic Republic at the start of the pandemic.

Janbabayee told the Fars News Agency: “The British government took hold of 3 million masks purchased by Iran in the first week of the coronavirus outbreak and did not deliver them to Iran, while Iran had already paid the price.”

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The deputy health minister claimed that Iran has had to produce its own PPE after multiple countries failed to deliver equipment bought by Tehran.

Last week, Sorena Sattari, the country’s Science and Technology Vice President, said: “Almost nothing related to COVID-19 has been imported from other countries, and everything has been secured with reliance on domestic production.

“Skilled companies have entered the scene very well, and much of the equipment used to fight the virus was not produced in the country in the past, but today we are producing them at high levels, an example being three-layer and filter-equipped masks.”

Earlier this month, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, 71, claimed that 25 million citizens have been infected with COVID-19, a number much higher than the country’s 270,000 confirmed cases announced one day previously.

Iran has a population of around 80 million people.

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According to the John Hopkins University, Iran has registered 301,530 cases of COVID-19 and 16,569 related deaths as of 30th July.

However, many people, including Mossad head Yossi Cohen, have accused Iran of under-reporting the extent of the epidemic in the country.

Even today, Iranian death tolls are only based on hospital cases and it is believed that many more have died of the virus in their homes.

Relatives are reportedly asking doctors to not mention that their family member died of COVID-19 due to the stigma attached to the pandemic.

The country has also been battling a spike in cases with official figures showing a rise in new infections and deaths since a two-month low in May.

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Iran did not impose a draconian lockdown like many countries around the world, but the authorities did close schools and ban public gatherings.

The surge in cases has prompted the government to make face masks compulsory in enclosed public spaces and allow the most affected provinces to impose further necessary restrictions.

The capital Tehran has also closed animal parks, coffee shops, and indoor swimming pools.

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