Iran’s Hassan Rouhani says COVID-19 measures may be eased within weeks

Iran's Hassan Rouhani says COVID-19 measures may be eased within weeks
Rouhani accused 'counter-revolutionaries' of attempting to shut down economic production. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he expects measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus, will be eased within the next two to three weeks.

Iran, one of the most affected countries after Italy and China, has taken severe steps including social distancing.

In a televised address on Saturday, Hassan Rouhani accused “counter-revolutionaries” of attempting to shut down economic production and vowed ”to do everything” to return economic activity back to normal.

Iran’s official death toll from the virus only behind Italy and China.

The country’s health ministry published the latest data which shows the death toll l had risen by more than 100 to 1,556, while the number of infected people stood at 20,610, while 7,635 people have recovered in Iran.

In his speech, Mr Rouhani tried to “strike a balance” between addressing the public health crisis and maintaining the country’s economic and sociopolitical stability going forward.

As Iran is suffering economic sanctions following US President Donald Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from a nuclear deal, it’s inability to procure badly needed medical equipment from international markets has hampered its efforts to combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

On February 19, Iran reported the first death in the country in the holy Shia city of Qom. Since then, the administration has taken a series of steps to contain the virus.

It has closed schools and universities until early April, as well as four key pilgrimage sites, including the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, temporarily closed Parliament and has also canceled the main weekly Friday prayers.

Rouhani defended the government’s response to the outbreak. amid increasing criticism that officials acted too slowly and may have even covered up initial cases before infections rapidly spread across the country.

He also praised doctors and nurses for their courage in fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The President said: “Our nation has managed to reach its goals, despite difficulties … Iran will overcome the coronavirus with unity.”

Mr Rouhani’s speech is also marked Persian new year, known as Nowruz.

He urged people to avoid all travel during the Persian New Year holidays, which usually sees almost all citizens take to the streets. But the pleas have been ignored by many.

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