Iran says the production of disinfectants and hygiene products has at least doubled over the past two weeks as the country steps up the battle against a new coronavirus outbreak.
Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani said Tuesday that the government had authorized relevant firms to increase the production of detergents, disinfectants and hygiene products.
There has been a substantial increase in the production of items such as masks, hand sanitizers and disposable gloves since early February, he added, according to Press TV.
Faced with a sudden surge in demand for disinfectant liquids and surgical masks following the outbreak, the country experienced an initial shortage of supplies but soon intensified efforts to satisfy the market need through increased domestic production as well as imports.
Also speaking on Tuesday, Gholamhossein Esmaili, the Iranian Judiciary’s spokesman, gave news of multiple arrests in connection with the hoarding and smuggling of medical supplies, disinfectants, protective masks and gloves.
He explained that if convicted on the charge of ‘spreading corruption on earth,’ these individuals could face the death penalty. Otherwise, they could be handed lengthy prison terms of between five and 20 years for disrupting the economy.
The coronavirus – named COVID-19 – first emerged in China late last year and is now spreading in Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic.
Since December 2019, over 91,300 people have been infected in several countries, with 3,120 deaths mostly in China.
As of Tuesday, Iran’s Health Ministry reported 77 deaths and 2,336 infections.
Most of the infections have been reported in Tehran, Rasht as well as the city of Qom where the virus was first found.
Esmaili assured that the prisoners incarcerated over security offenses are being kept in far better conditions compared to other inmates.