Iran announced on Saturday that it would cover 90% of the health care expenses of each of its citizens diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, Anadolu reports.
Speaking at the country's coronavirus prevention center in the capital Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani said the government had fortified the country's health care system over the past six years, IRNA news agency reported.
Rouhani noted that 90% of health care expenses of Iranians diagnosed with COVID-19 who apply to hospitals, would be met by the government through health insurance.
He added that there was no food shortage in the country and that officials were cautiously following developments.
Blaming U.S. sanctions for difficulties faced in the country, he said that 20% of this year's budget — translating to 10 trillion rials ($237.5 million)– had been allocated to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
"It might be surprising for the world to see that a country facing harsh sanctions could allocate this budget. Besides, our health care personnel's motivation is high, our hospitals are fully equipped," he added.
Rouhani stressed that it was a moral and cultural responsibility for people to respect and protect one another: "If someone is diagnosed, or is suspected of having COVID-19, hiding this would be high treason."
People with suspicions of COVID-19 should seek medical attention as soon as possible and the best way to avoid the illness is to keep social distance, he said.
On Thursday, March 26, Rouhani said the government made a plea to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for a fund of $1 billion from the country's national development fund to be used by Health Ministry and unemployment insurance fund.
A total of 139 people in Iran have died due to the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll up to 2,517, health officials announced on Saturday.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 177 countries and territories, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows over 614,800 cases have been reported worldwide since last December, with the death toll above 28,600 and over 135,600 recoveries.