1208 GMT April 04, 2020
An Iranian Health Ministry official said the country has turned down an offer by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known as Doctors Without Borders in English, to build a makeshift hospital in the central province of Isfahan, noting that this is not among Iran’s urgent and essential requirements.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Alireza Vahabzadeh, a Health Ministry adviser, wrote, “There were no infectious diseases or coronavirus specialist in the team dispatched by MSF. They had sent an emergency physician as well as a small amount of consumer equipment, which are produced domestically. They did not send any special or sanctioned drug which could help alleviate the impacts of the [US] sanctions. This comes as we have tens of field hospitals set up by the country’s Armed Forces which are ready to provide services and a large number of our beds are empty.”
In another post a few hours earlier, he had expressed gratitude toward MSF, saying Iran currently does not require foreign forces to establish a hospital given the implementation of a national mobilization plan and the treatment capacities of the Iranian Armed Forces in the country, which are being used maximally, adding the MSF project is canceled.
Covering the issue in a report on Tuesday, bloomberg.com quoted similar remarks by Vahabzadeh, adding he has said in a phone call, “We currently already have tens of field hospitals that we’ve built that haven’t yet been used, we have empty beds and spare capacity, so at this stage we don’t need this help. It doesn’t include anything we don’t have or cannot access due to sanctions.”
According to IRNA, other officials of the Iranian Health Ministry have not yet officially reacted to the presence of the MSF team in Iran.
Earlier, the international humanitarian organization announced that it plans to staff the inflatable hospital in Isfahan with a team comprising nine ICU specialists.
In reaction to the issue, MSF said it’s “currently put on hold” its plans to set up a makeshift hospital in Iran to help critically ill coronavirus patients.
It said in an email that it was awaiting “official confirmations about the next steps.” It didn’t explain why its plans for an emergency team to staff a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit in Esfahan have stalled.
The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease, emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province late last year and is currently affecting a large number of countries and territories across the globe. It has infected and killed people in a large number of the countries.
On Tuesday, the speaker of Iran’s Health Ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour, said the total number of infections has reached 24,811 in the country, according to IRNA.
With 122 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 1,934, he added, regretting that 1,762 new cases have been identified in the past 24 hours. Jahanpour put the number of the recovered patients at 8,931.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015, and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Tehran. The sanctions have hindered, among many other things, the delivery of international humanitarian aid, drugs and medical equipment to Iran, particularly, now that the country is in a fight against the coronavirus.