Iran has announced plans to mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers as the country battles COVID-19, which has so far claimed 77 lives among 2,336 confirmed cases that include 23 lawmakers.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, ordered its armed forces to assist health officials in combating the outbreak. It wasn’t clear if the order would set the military in motion helping sanitize streets, direct traffic and track possible contacts those ill with the virus had with others.
The authorities have adopted extraordinary measures in Tehran and 13 provinces, including the closure of schools, universities, cinemas and some religious seminaries. Other more specific steps have also been taken or encouraged by the state.
Further compounding Iran’s difficulties is the demand for medical supplies and medication, as well as disinfectants and related hygiene equipment. US sanctions make the shortage of medical supplies even worse.