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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘desperate’ to be tested for coronavirus, family says

Richard Ratcliffe said prisoners were avoiding his wife as she was showing symptoms.


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in prison in Iran (Family handout/PA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in prison in Iran (Family handout/PA)

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in prison in Iran (Family handout/PA)

The husband of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran says his wife is showing “all the symptoms” of coronavirus but is yet to be tested.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was desperately trying to get tested, but claimed the prison where she is being held is “obviously under orders” not to allow it.

Although there are currently no confirmed cases at the Evin prison in Tehran, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across Iran with at least 54 dead and almost 1,000 patients identified.

The UK and international allies have agreed a package of support for Iran, despite the strained diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Monday, Mr Ratcliffe said other inmates at the facility were “keeping away” from his wife as she was showing symptoms.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe detained
Richard Ratcliffe (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said: “It (coronavirus) has swept through the prison.

“There are prisoners showing all the symptoms of coronavirus, a cough, temperature, body pain all over, fatigue.

“Nazanin, at the middle of the week, was showing all these symptoms.”

Mr Ratcliffe claimed the prison where she is being held had run out of cleaning materials, including disinfectants, as well as medicines.

He said his wife was “desperate” to get tested, but added: “The prison is obviously under orders not to test anyone.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has called on the Iranian government to “immediately allow” health professionals into the prison to assess British-Iranian dual nationals.

Downing Street said it was seeking information from the Iranian authorities.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have been urgently seeking updates in relation to the welfare of Nazanin and other dual nationals who are being held in Iranian jails.”

In a separate development, the UK, France and Germany – the three European countries which are signed up to Iran’s nuclear deal – promised £4.36 million (5 million euro) in aid along with equipment for laboratory tests, protective body suits and gloves.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who also appeared on GMB, praised Mr Ratcliffe for showing “extraordinary fortitude” in the situation.

He said: “We will continue to press the government and the FCO to do all we can for his wife.”

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to show her young daughter, Gabriella, to her parents in April 2016.

She was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the UK Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.