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Iran does not rule out MSF offer on coronavirus fight: Minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian vendors sit outside as other shops are closed in Tehran's grand bazaar during the coronavirus pandemic, March 18, 2020. (File photo by AFP)

Iran’s Health Minister Saeid Namaki says the Islamic Republic has not totally ruled out using staff and equipment offered by Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym as MSF.

The Iranian minister said on Wednesday the MSF mission had been called off due to the fact that the French medical charity was planning to deploy its staff and equipment in a location where there is plenty of hospital beds for treating coronavirus patients.

Appreciating the offer by the MSF – Medecins Sans Frontieres, the minister said the government prefers to benefit from such humanitarian missions in places where there is a shortage of healthcare facilities.

Namaki made the remarks after the MSF said it did not ‘understand’ a decision by Iranian authorities to cancel the mission, which would have set up a 50-bed unit in the central city of Isfahan.

“Since there are plenty of empty beds (across Iran), there is no need yet to the beds of a mobile hospital offered by this group,” said Namaki, adding that the MSF mission could be used in areas in Iran that are frequented by refugees and foreign nationals.

The official said Iran would never turn down an offer of help from international charities and organizations except in circumstances that they come from the United States.

Spokesman of the Iranian Health Ministry Kianoush Jahanpour said earlier on Wednesday that with around 20,000 hospitals and care home beds in Iran, the country had no urgent need to a small mobile hospital like the one proposed by the MSF.

Other reports suggested that the MSF was planning to deploy a simple mission to Iran led by an A&E doctor and there was no plan to dispatch medical experts on coronavirus or infectious diseases.

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