Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Iran’s Top Security Official Decries US Duplicity in Virus Allegation
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 2:35 AM

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani

Iran’s top security official has harshly rebuked the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s allegation that Tehran is covering up details of the coronavirus spread in the country.

In a Persian tweet on Tuesday, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani censured the US double standards and said the accusation comes as the White House has failed to release precise reports about the extent of damage it suffered in Iran’s retaliatory missile attacks on Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq.

Shamkhani also noted that Washington has refused to provide data on the downing of a US drone in Afghanistan as well as the number of flu-related deaths in the United States over the past year.

Earlier in the day, Pompeo claimed that the United States was "deeply concerned" Iran may have covered up details about the coronavirus outbreak, and he called on world countries to "tell the truth" about the epidemic.

"The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country," Pompeo told reporters, also criticizing Beijing for what he claimed as the censorship of media and medical professionals.

"All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations," he added.

Coronavirus part of 'maximum pressure' policy

In another tweet on Tuesday, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the US was using the new coronavirus as a strategy to complete its "maximum pressure" policy against Tehran.

Shamkhani said the US was putting psychological pressure on countries to shut their land and air routes to Iran, also describing propagating lies as Washington’s new roadmap in its anti-Iran campaign.

The virus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It may also worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal.

According to the World Health Organization, the epidemic has killed more than 2,600 people and infected more than 77,000 others in China. But the situation has worsened elsewhere with nearly 2,700 other cases and more than 40 deaths globally.

In Iran, the virus showed up in the north-central city of Qom, where it has claimed its most victims. In all, the spread has taken 15 lives across the country and infected as many as 95 others.

Iranian medical officials have assured that Iran would, in the near future, rein in the outbreak, noting that the condition of most of the patients diagnosed with the virus had improved.

A businessman says import of coronavirus test kits into Iran has been hampered by US sanctions.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite defense force, has also expressed preparedness to help fight the outbreak, and Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has ordered his Ministry's subsidiary organizations to start mass-producing liquid disinfectants and protective masks in large quantities.

The country has, meanwhile, announced closure of schools and universities throughout the upcoming days, and health centers have been tasked with distributing protective items, such as the facemasks, among the public.

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