News Digest: Week of April 27

April 27

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 91,472 cases and 5,806 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry Spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said that 70,933 patients had recovered from the virus.

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health warned citizens against ingesting toxic methanol. False rumors about cures for the coronavirus, including drinking industrial strength alchohol, have spread on social media since the outbreak was first reported in February. An adviser to the ministry, Hossein Hassanian, reported that 728 Iranians were killed by alcohol poisoning between February 20 and April 7.

Health/Justice: Dr. Sirous Asgari, an Iranian materials science and engineering professor detained in the United States, tested positive for COVID-19, according to his family and attorneys. Asgari said he had a severe cough and fever for days before being tested. He was charged with fraud and trade secret theft in 2017. He was acquitted in November 2019 but remained in detention because the United States had revoked his original visa.

 

April 28

Health: Iran recorded 92,584 cases and 5,877 deaths from coronavirus. Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that 72,439 COVID-19 patients had recovered. More than seven percent of COVID-19 deaths in Iran were veterans of the 1980 war with Iraq, according to the Islamic Revolution Veterans Association. The veterans were at higher risk for respiratory and lung infections due to the effects of toxic gases they inhaled during wartime chemical attacks.

Health/Religion: Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi announced that religious sites would not reopen until after the holy month of Ramadan.

Diplomacy: President Hassan Rouhani thanked China for providing humanitarian assistance. He emphasized the need for cooperation to stem the spread of COVID-19. Chinese President Xi Jinping praised Iran’s efforts to combat the pandemic. “The drop in the number of patients and deaths, and at the same time the increase in the number of recovering people in Iran show that the treatment programs have been useful and their implementation has been accurate,” Jinping said.

 

April 29

Health: Iran recorded 93,657 cases and 5,957 deaths from COVID-19.

Health: President Rouhani  said that  Iranians needed to adapt to life under coronavirus under the assumption that the disease “is here to stay.” He urged citizens to stay home as much as possible. “We should abide by all health protocols, and don’t forget that it is necessary to work, produce and conduct activities while taking the required precautions,” he said at a cabinet meeting.

Nuclear: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States would not allow a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran to expire in October. “We will work with the U.N. Security Council to extend that prohibition on those arms sales and then in the event we can’t get anyone else to act, the United States is evaluating every possibility about how we might do that,” Pompeo said. The United States was urging Britain, France and Germany to trigger the “snapback” of U.N. sanctions, including the arms embargo, if necessary. The three European powers, along with China and Russia, remained in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after the United States withdrew from it in 2018. Pompeo also suggested that the United States could snapback sanctions under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the nuclear deal.

 

April 30

Health: Iran reported 94,640 cases, including 6,028 deaths, from COVID-19. Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that 463,295 Iranians had been tested for the virus.

Economy: Jamshid Hamzezadeh, the president of the Iranian Hoteliers Association, 

Health/Religion:  The Ministry of Health announced that religious sites in several cities, including Qom and Tehran, would remain closed through the holy month of Ramadan. "Until there’s full assurance that pilgrims to religious sites will not face problems, we won't allow ourselves to open the doors of these centers to the people," said Health Minister Saeed Namaki. 

 

May 1

Health: The Ministry of Health announced 1,006 new cases of coronavirus since the previous day, raising the country’s total number of infections to 95,646, including 6,091 deaths.

Health/Justice: Iran urged the United States to free Dr. Sirous Asgari, an Iranian scientist who had contracted COVID-19 while in a U.S. prison. “We are worried about the health conditions of all Iranians jailed in American prisons; however, the news of the infection of the Iranian thinker … has added to our concerns,” said Ali Baqeri Kani, Secretary of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights. Asgari had remained in U.S. detention despite being exonerated from sanctions-related charges in November.

Diplomacy: Iran blasted Germany for designating the Lebanese political party and militia Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and banning its activities. “It appears that certain countries in Europe are adopting their stances without considering the realities in the West Asia region and by paying regard only to the objectives of the propaganda machine of the Zionist regime and the confused U.S. regime,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement. He added that Hezbollah was part of the Lebanese government.

 

Updated