LONDON: Iran has turned away a major international aid operation to help the country treat coronavirus cases.
Iran is being crippled by one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the world, with the regime’s figures claiming 1,934 people had died as of Tuesday.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a global medical charity, had sent a mobile 50-bed hospital and team of medics to Isfahan to help hospital workers there handle the huge volume of cases.
On Tuesday, MSF said it was incomprehensible that Iranian health ministry officials had removed approval for the organization to help manage severe cases after the team nd equipment had already arrived in Tehran.
“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” said Michel Olivier Lacharite, manager of the MSF Emergency programmes in Paris. “The need for this intervention, and the authorisations needed to start it, were discussed and agreed with relevant Iranian authorities during the past weeks. Our teams were ready to start medical activities at the end of this week.”
The announcement came after an Iranian health ministry adviser said on Monday that the country did not need MSF’s help.
“We currently do not have a need for hospital beds set up by foreign forces,” Alireza Vahabzadeh tweeted.
Earlier, MSF said the operation involved an inflatable hospital and a nine-person team of emergency and intensive care doctors and logistics personnel to treat patients critically ill with the virus.
The hospital had been flown from France and was to be set up inside the compound of Amin hospital in Isfahan.
“Iran is by far the hardest hit country in the region, and Isfahan the second worst-affected province in Iran,” says Julie Reverse, MSF’s representative in Iran. “We hope our assistance will relieve at least some of the pressure on the local health system.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Sunday turned down a US offer of humanitarian assistance, saying “they could be giving medicines to Iran that spread the virus or cause it to remain permanently in Iran.”
The outbreak has swept through Iran where the government has been criticized for its slow response and covering up the true extent of those infected.
Last week officials conceded that someone was dying from Covid-19 every 10 minutes in the country.