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Coronavirus: Iran temporarily frees 54,000 prisoners to combat the spread

A woman wearing a face mask walks on a street in Tehran (March 2, 2020)

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The Covid-19 outbreak in Iran killed at least 77 people in less than two weeks

Iran has temporarily released more than 54,000 prisoners in an attempt to combat the spread of the new coronavirus disease in crowded prisons.

Judge spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters that detainees were granted furlough after being judged negative for Covid-19 and publishing the bail.

“Security prisoners” sentenced to more than five years will not be released.

British-Iranian charity worker jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe could be released soon, according to a British MP.

Tulip Siddiq quoted the Iranian ambassador to the United Kingdom as saying that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe “could be released today or tomorrow”.

Her husband said on Saturday that she believed she had contracted Covid-19 in Tehran’s Evin prison and that the authorities were refusing to test her.

But Mr. Esmaili insisted on Monday that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was subsequently in contact with her family and “told them about her good health”.

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PA Media

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is detained in Tehran’s Evin prison

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned for five years in 2016 after being convicted of espionage charges that she denied. The UK has also insisted that it is innocent.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said: “We ask the Iranian government to immediately allow health professionals in Evin prison to assess the situation of Iranian-British nationals.”

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More than 90,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide and 3,110 deaths since the disease emerged late last year, the vast majority in China.

The outbreak in Iran killed at least 77 people in less than two weeks.

On Tuesday, the ministry of health said that the number of confirmed cases has increased by more than 50% for the second consecutive day. It now stands at 2,336, although the real figure is believed to be much higher.

Cases related to Iran have also been reported from Afghanistan, Canada, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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Iran reported 835 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday

Numerous senior Iranian officials have contracted the virus. Among the latter, the head of emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand.

Twenty-three of the 290 members of parliament also proved positive.

On Monday, an Expediency Council member who advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died following Covid-19 in Tehran. State media said that 71-year-old Mohammad Mirmohammadi had a close relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei.

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Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wore latex gloves during a tree planting ceremony

On Tuesday, during a ceremony for planting trees on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, the supreme leader urged the public to observe the hygiene guidelines of the ministry of health and ordered all government agencies to provide all necessary help to the ministry. of health.

Ayatollah Khamenei also insisted that the Iranian authorities did not hide information about the extent of the problem, saying: “Our officials have reported sincerely and transparently since day one. However, some countries where the outbreak has been most serious they tried to hide it. ”

The Iranian outbreak, he added, “will not last long in the country and will pack.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Saeed Namaki has said that a nationwide screening campaign will begin on Wednesday.

The teams will visit patients who are suspected of being infected with Covid-19 and who do not have access to medical services.

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A team from the World Health Organization arrived in Tehran on Monday

A team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), who arrived in Iran on Monday, supports local health authorities.

WHO said they “will review readiness and response efforts, visit designated healthcare facilities, laboratories and entry points, and provide technical assistance.”

The plane carrying the experts also contained a shipment of medical supplies and protective equipment to support over 15,000 health workers, as well as enough laboratory kits to test and diagnose nearly 100,000 people.

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