Iran blames U.S. for coronavirus

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Brigadier General Hossein Salami

Brigadier General Hossein Salami

IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has today claimed that the coronavirus outbreak could be a biological attack by the United States against China and Iran.

Hossein Salami told a crowd in Kerman today that the virus outbreak which has brought misery to Iran ‘may be the product of the American biological invasion’.

‘We will win in the fight against the virus, which may be the product of the American biological invasion, which it first spread to China and then to Iran and the rest of the world,’ he declared.

There is no evidence to support his theory of the virus, which is believed by scientists to have jumped from animals to humans in China late last year.

‘Today the country is engaged in a biological battle,’ Salami said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

‘Even today, we will win, even in the fight against the virus. The U.S. must know that if it did it, [the virus] will return to it.’

Members of the Guard routinely engage in conspiracy theories and angry rhetoric towards America has heightened since top general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in January.

Iranian civil defence chief Gholam Reza Jalali likewise suggested on Tuesday that the outbreak was a ‘biological attack’ against China and Iran.

Without naming America, he said the ‘type of media propaganda’ that was ‘aimed at increasing fear and panic among people’ suggested that a ‘biological attack has been launched against China and Iran with economic goals’.

Scientists are not yet certain of the virus’s exact origins, although suspicion has fallen on a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

‘Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread,’ the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

‘Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.’

Scientific investigations are still ongoing, but there has been no evidence that the virus was manufactured deliberately.

Iran today announced 15 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the official toll to 107 – the highest death toll outside China.

There has been suspicion that the regime’s figures are too low, although the once-striking death rate is now only a little higher than the global figure.

Brian Hook, the US State Department’s envoy on Iran, said today that Tehran’s response to the virus was one reason Iranian authorities were enduring a ‘crisis of legitimacy’.

‘Iran lied to its own people about the coronavirus,’ Hook told reporters on a trip to Paris to coordinate policy with Europe.

‘It told them it was not anything to worry about but at the same time the virus was spreading throughout Iran.’

Iran has also been facing shortages of face masks and other medical equipment, worsened by U.S. sanctions.

The country has also cancelled Friday prayers in major cities including Tehran.

Iran has already suspended major cultural and sporting events and reduced working hours across the country.

‘Schools and universities will be closed until the end’ of the current Iranian year, which ends on March 19, health minister Saeed Namaki said today.

‘People should not consider this as an opportunity to go travelling,’ the minister said. ‘They should stay home and take our warnings seriously.

‘This virus is highly contagious. It is a serious matter, do not joke about it.’

The Islamic republic also reported 591 additional confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness, bringing the total to 3,513 infected.

Namaki said Iran had begun a national plan to combat coronavirus which will start in the handful of locations most affected by the disease and expand to other parts of the country, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Families would be contacted by telephone to help identify possible cases and health teams will disinfect public spaces, he said, listing the provinces of Qom, Gilan and Isfahan as the locations where the plan would begin.

On Sunday, Namaki had said that 300,000 teams, including members of the Basij militia, would be sent out to perform door-to-door coronavirus screening.

The plan sparked criticism from Iranians online about the possibility of the teams spreading, rather than stopping, infections.

The latest plan announced on Thursday did not mention door-to-door screening.

‘Our method is not going into homes,’ Namaki said on state TV. ‘We can use digital communications and ultimately the telephone. So we don’t see a reason to go to the doors of peoples’ homes.’

Source » dailymail

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