BRICS Members Ask for Removal of US Sanctions on Iran

Members of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) stressed the need for Washington to lift sanctions that have impeded the targeted countries’ efforts to fight against the coronavirus epidemic, including Iran.

“Such restrictive measures violate international law, interfere with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and cause significant damage to the socio-economic development of the respective states,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement following an informal online meeting with his BRICS counterparts.

He said that the participants in the meeting supported the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend or abolish sanctions that bypass the UN.

The Russian top diplomat said that the participants agreed to consider the impact of the crisis on the system of international relations, when the global political and economic systems, international institutions and the national states themselves are tested for strength.

Lavrov said that the BRICS mechanism for the development and use of vaccines, including against coronavirus infections, should be launched as soon as possible.

For its part, Russia does not intend to discontinue financial support to the World Health Organization (WHO), despite the actions of other countries, he said.

According to Lavrov, the WHO is a unique platform which aggregates information and facts available from various states, and a structure that brings together the best professionals from all countries, including the United States.

The Iranian health ministry announced on Thursday that 983 new cases of coronavirus infection have been diagnosed in the country in the past 24 hours, noting that over 75,000 patients have been treated and dismissed from hospitals.

“983 more patients infected with COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country since yesterday based on confirmed diagnosis criteria,” Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Thursday.

He added that the number of coronavirus patients in the country has increased to 94,640 people.

Jahanpour said that 6,028 people have lost their lives due to infection to the virus, including 71 in the past 24 hours.

He, meantime, stated that 75,103 infected people have recovered and been discharged from hospital, expressing concern that 2,976 patients infected with COVID-19 virus are in critical conditions.

Jahanpour also noted that 463,295 coronavirus diagnosis tests have been carried out in the country so far.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki stressed on April 7 effective measures to control coronavirus epidemic, expressing the hope that the disease would be controlled in Iran by late May.

“At present, the country is in the phase of disease management and we should not imagine that we have reached the harness and control phase. Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time,” Namaki said, addressing the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He noted that at least 30% to 50% of hospital beds are still vacant across Iran and nearly 15,000 beds are ready to keep the patients who are recovering from coronavirus disease.

“We have now moved down to tank 6th in terms of deaths,” Namaki said, adding that the country’s situation in treatment of patients will improve in the next few days.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all 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 228,500 people and infected over 3.23 million others globally.

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 most universities have been extended until late April.

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.

Namaki announced last 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.

According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached over 90 across the country.

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.

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