Coronavirus: Iran’s deputy health minister rejects biological warfare theory

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Iran’s deputy health minister Reza Malekzadeh rejected on Friday the theory that the coronavirus outbreak in the country was due to a biological attack.

Senior officials of the Islamic Republic, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami had previously suggested that the coronavirus outbreak in Iran may be the result of a biological attack against the country.

“…The best biological defense would’ve been to tell the Iranian people the truth about the Wuhan virus when it spread to Iran from China. Instead, [Khamenei] kept Mahan Air flights coming and going to the epicenter in China, and jailed those who spoke out,” US Secretary of State tweeted in response.

The US will see more harm from this virus than any other country, deputy health minister Malekzadeh said on Friday, adding that it is “highly unlikely” the outbreak was due to a biological attack.

On how the virus spread to the country, Malekzadeh said that Iran did not close its air borders with China in a “timely manner.”

This was due to the “economic ties with China as well as the large number of Iranians in China,” he added.

Prior to the official announcement of the spread of coronavirus to Iran, “we had cases of respiratory illnesses in Qom and some other cities and we thought they were all due to the flu,” Malekzadeh said.

“We should have certainly been more vigilant,” he said, adding that “we had some delay in informing the public.”

Malekzadeh did not say exactly how many days Iran delayed announcing the spread of coronavirus to the country.

Iran did not officially acknowledge the presence of coronavirus in the country until February 19.

As of Saturday, 611 in Iran have died from coronavirus and there are 12,729 confirmed cases.

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