Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed US accusations of falsifying data on the coronavirus outbreak in the country, calling it "propaganda" in his speech during a cabinet meeting. He also stressed that the "fear" the US is allegedly trying to sow in the country must not become a weapon against Iranian business.
"Corona[virus] should not become the weapon of our enemies. Americans and enemies have, for two years, with their boycott and propaganda, sought to perpetuate economic despair in this country and make people suffer", Rouhani said.
The president also noted that the US struggles with coronavirus itself, but at the same time spends time speculating about the outbreak of the virus in another country.
"Lately a high-ranking American official spoke about Iran's coronavirus situation. They are caught up with corona themselves, they have lost 16,000 lives to influenza in America, but they do not speak of themselves", the president added.
Rouhani's statements came in response to accusations sounded by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who claimed that Iran was hiding the exact numbers of those who had contracted the COVID-19 virus and died from it and called on Tehran to release accurate data.
According to Iranian officials, 139 people were infected, including a lawmaker and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who was leading the task force which is trying to tackle the epidemic. So far only 19 Iranians died from the disease, but one of the country's lawmakers claims that in fact, around 50 lives were claimed by the virus. The Iranian Health Ministry's Spokesman however reassured people that the situation was "improving", but still called on citizens to avoid visiting infected regions.
Iran remains one of the countries beyond China suffering the most from the coronavirus outbreak, alongside Japan, South Korea, Italy and the US. Meanwhile, according to World Health Organisation data the COVID-19 virus has infected a total of 80,239 people around the world and killed 2700 more, most of them in China where the epidemic originated.