Iranian Army stages screening drills to counter coronavirus outbreak

March 15, 2020 - 14:33

TEHRAN- On Sunday morning, the Iran Army launched a series of preventing-screening exercises to prepare its forces to counter the COVID-19 outbreak across the country.

The drills started in the Shahid Zarharan center upon order by Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi to Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Kiomars Heidari.

"The drills are aimed at containing coronavirus outbreak in the country via resorting to combat spirit," Heidari said. 

"The drills will currently cover the coronavirus-hit provinces of Qom and Gilan; however, they will finally be staged nationwide," Heidari stated.  

"We are to set up screening checkpoints in the mentioned provinces' entrances to test the incoming people," the commander went on to say. 

Heidari said sanitizing public places, setting up more rescue and diagnostic centers and field hospitals are also among our missions in the drills.  

On Friday, top commanders of the IRGC, Army and police gathered together on how to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, called Covid-19. 

The session, held at the Imam Reza Health and Treatment Base in Tehran, was headed by Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi; the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Hossein Salami; Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari; Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces for Coordination Affairs Major General Ali Abdollahi; and Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces for Intelligence Affairs Brigadier General Gholamreza Ebrahimi were among the top commanders attending the session. 

The commanders reviewed establishment of the base in detail and exchanged views over its structure in order to activate the headquarters as soon as possible. 

After the meeting, General Baqeri announced that in the next seven or ten days all Iranian citizens will be screened to identify persons suspected of the coronavirus infection.

He said the screening would be done either through social media, telephone and if necessary in front of people’s homes.

The healthy people will stay at home but the suspects would be examined in certain medical centers which would be established for the purpose.

"The commander said about 1000 mobile and fixed clinics would be added to the country’s health centers for the purpose.

The military chief also said in cooperation with the Interior Ministry the traffic in roads, streets and shopping centers would be limited.  

The decision followed an order by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Armed Forces commander-in-chief, to establish a “health and treatment headquarters” to prevent further spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The virus first emerged in China in December last year and is now spreading in Europe, the U.S. and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, acknowledging what seemed clear for some time — the virus would likely spread to all countries on the globe.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation would worsen.

“We expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” said Tedros, as the director-general is known.

As of Saturday, 120 countries have reported that over 140,000 have contracted COVID-19. Over 5,000 people have thus far died.

The Iranian Health Ministry announced on Sunday that totally 13,938 nationals have been confirmed infected by the virus, out of whom 724 have lost their lives.

According to the Health Ministry, the health conditions of 4,590 patients have improved.


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