As the novel coronavirus sweeps Iran, the government’s response has been opaque and remarkably deficient, favoring political and religious priorities over pragmatic prevention policies. When the virus began to spread in Wuhan, China, other countries took stock of their readiness against the disease. Iran did not prepare. Instead, it continued to export facemasks to China, causing a national shortage when its own hospitals needed masks in February. Iran also refused to restrict travelers from China, its largest trading partner, in all likelihood to avoid any deleterious impact on its already spiraling economy, which has been battered by U.S. sanctions.
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