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Health minister hails Iran's handling of coronavirus pandemic despite sanctions

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)
The photo shows the recent inauguration of the production line for three-layer surgical masks and face shields at a factory affiliated with the Iranian Red Crescent Society. (By Tasnim News Agency)

Minister of Health and Medical Education Saeed Namaki has hailed Iran's handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID1-19) pandemic, saying the country has turned from an importer of medical items into an exporter despite the illegal US sanctions.

He made the remarks in a video conference call to the inauguration of a factory in Markazi Province, which produces Acetaminophen and pharmaceutical raw materials, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

Namaki said that Iran saved 700 million euros in the last Persian calendar year by relying on local production of medicine and pharmaceuticals.

"Most importantly, as a sanctions-hit country subjected to oppressive bans, we were able to manage the coronavirus outbreak and within 60 days turn from an importer of medical equipment and necessary items such as masks into a manufacturer and later an exporter," he said.

"It was another sign of great honor that will shine in the history of the country, which at the height of the sanctions, was able to get itself together in less than two months and turn into an exporter of masks, medicine and disinfectants," he added.

Iran has been among the countries hit hard by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.

Inhumane US sanctions have hampered the virus battle in Iran, which reported its first COVID-19 infection cases in late February. 

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday the virus outbreak would remain for a long time, warning that people still needed to follow health protocols.

On Sunday, Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour reported 2,364 new infections and 72 deaths from the virus over the past 24 hours.

In total, 171,789  Iranians have contracted the disease and 8,291 have died, he said, adding 134,349 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital so far.

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