Caracas Receives Testing Kits From Iran to ‘Strengthen Venezuela in Its Fight Against Coronavirus’

Although Venezuela lifted its corona-virus related restrictions on 1 June, Caracas continues to grapple with the repercussions of the disease which has claimed the lives of at least 22 people there, according to the World Health Organisation.

PEJOURNAL – The Venezuelan government has announced the arrival of an Iranian plane with a cargo of humanitarian aid on board to help the South American country tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on state television Monday, Venezuela’s Planning Minister Ricardo Menendez said that “right now, what we are receiving is different types of testing kits”.

 He echoed Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Hojjatollah Soltani who earlier noted that “today we are seeing the arrival of these materials to strengthen Venezuela in its fight against coronavirus”.

The aid was delivered after Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi signaled last week Tehran’s willingness to go ahead with its oil shipments to Venezuela if Caracas “demands more [such] supplies from Iran”.

 According to Mousavi, Iran practices its free trade rights with Venezuela”.

The statement came after five Iranian tankers carrying fuel and oil refinery equipment arrived in Venezuela in late May, in the face of US warnings of fresh sanctions on both Tehran and Caracas.

Iranian oil tanker Fortune is anchored at the dock of the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, Monday, May 25, 2020.

Iranian oil tanker Fortune is anchored at the dock of the El Palito refinery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, Monday, May 25, 2020.

The tankers’ arrival was preceded by reports earlier last month that the Trump administration is considering new sanctions and “other legal steps to disrupt Iranian oil exports to Venezuela”, in response to what Washington sees as Tehran’s attempts “to make inroads into Latin America”.

Mousavi, for his part, warned at the time that if the US takes any step against Iranian vessels’ “free and legal movement around”, they would “face our decisive response”.

Venezuela Reportedly at High Risk Over Corona virus

Reuters has, meanwhile, quoted unnamed health experts as saying that Venezuela still faces high risks related to COVID-19 due to the ongoing economic meltdown which has seriously affected the country’s public hospitals and hampered public services there, including electricity and running water.

As of Monday, the number of confirmed corona virus cases in the South American country increased to 2,316, with 22 fatalities, according to the World Health Organisation’s latest situation report which was issued about a week after coronavirus-related restrictions were lifted in Venezuela.

This came after Caracas rushed in mid-March to immediately declare a national state of emergency and introduce quarantine measures across the country to prevent the spread of the disease.