New Digest: Week of March 23

March 23

Medicine: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 23,049 cases of coronavirus, including 1,812 deaths. President Hassan Rouhani called on the United States to lift sanctions to help Iran fight the coronavirus outbreak. “American leaders are lying ... If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions .... Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

Weather: Heavy rainfall caused flooding in 10 provinces along the Persian Gulf coast to northern Mazandaran and Qom. Water inundated villages and towns, causing 11 deaths, according a spokesman for the Emergency Services Organization of Iran. 


March 24

Health/Justice:  Iran reported 24,811 cases of coronavirus, including 1,934 deaths. President Rouhani announced that Iran would extend furloughs granted to 85,000 prisoners. The return date for inmates was changed from April 3 to April 19. Iran temporarily freed prisoners to help contain the outbreak in the prison system.

Human Rights/Health: Tehran rejected humanitarian aid, including a 50-bed inflatable hospital and a nine-person emergency team, from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders. “The Iranian Armed Forces' medical capabilities are entirely at its service, Iran did not need hospitals established by foreigners. [Therefore], the MSF presence in Iran is irrelevant,” said Ministry of Health advisor Alireza Vahab zadeh.


March 25

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 27,017 cases and 2,077 deaths from coronavirus. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned that Iran could face a second wave of coronavirus cases if Iranians did not follow government orders. “Unfortunately some Iranians ignored advice from health ministry officials and travelled during the (Iranian) New Year holidays ... This could cause a second wave of the coronavirus,”
 Rabiei said. 

Society: President Rouhani announced an inner-city travel ban  for the remainder of the Nowruz holiday.  “This plan is strict and it will create difficulties and restrictions for travel, and prompt people who have already traveled to return home faster,” he said. Rouhani added that all parks would be closed and Sizdah Bedar, an annual nature festival on April 1, “will not be like previous years.”