Iran says the new coronavirus has killed another 129 people, raising the death toll to 1,685 amid 21,638 confirmed cases.
That’s according to Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, who gave the figures at a televised news conference Sunday.
His comments came after Iran’s supreme leader earlier refused U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. The following is AP’s previous story.
Iran’s supreme leader refused U.S. assistance Sunday to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments come as Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing international financial markets.
But while Iranian civilian officials in recent days have increasingly criticized those sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead chose to traffic in the same conspiracy theory increasingly used by Chinese officials about the new virus to deflect blame for the pandemic.
“I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?” Khamenei said. “Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more.”
He also alleged without offering any evidence that the virus “is specifically built for Iran using the genetic data of Iranians which they have obtained through different means.”
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