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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Iran’s President Rouhani: Coronavirus Will Be Here for a Long Time

Filed under: Iran

Iran’s President Rouhani: Coronavirus Will Be Here for a Long Time
President Rouhani meets with Iran’s National Task Force for Fighting Coronavirus1

On June 7, 2020, the Iranian government reported 2,364 new coronavirus cases. The number of coronavirus patients officially reported in Iran so far, has reached more than 170,000 cases and more than 8,000 dead.

President Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on June 6, 2020, attended a meeting of the National Task Force for Fighting Coronavirus. At the meeting, Rouhani extensively reviewed how Iran’s health services deal with the virus and Iran’s preparedness to continue tackling the spread of the epidemic. As expected, the president lavished praise on the medical teams, in particular, for its handling of the virus as well as Iranian medical services in general. Rouhani even said that while in the past Iranians went abroad for treatments, today many Iranians living abroad have come to Iran for complex treatments, including transplants.

At the same time, Rouhani warned Iranian citizens that the coronavirus epidemic has not disappeared and that coping with the virus will continue for an unknown period of time. “People must recognize that there is no clear end date to this epidemic,” he warned, “and it will take a long time to develop a vaccine.” Because of this, Rouhani added that Iranian citizens must understand that hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing are not just interim measures, but rather measures that are expected to continue for the long term. The president also said that for now residents should refrain from organizing and attending weddings, funerals, memorial services, as well as large gatherings until new health care guidelines are issued.  The issue will be examined at the next National Task Force for Fighting Coronavirus meeting. Rouhani reiterated rigorously the rules of hygiene and social distancing, emphasizing the importance of maintaining these red lines so that the medical system could respond properly. He also addressed the importance of computer distance-learning in high schools and universities.

On the economy, President Rouhani said that in Iran’s current situation, the country has no choice: “We have to work, our factories need to operate, the stores need to be open, and travel must continue as needed,” he stressed. “At the same time, we must continue to fight the virus.”

The President emphasized that Iran must not stop its activities, as it is the yearning of “counter-revolutionaries” who continue to convey these messages on social networks to put pressure on the government. The mosques are open to worshipers and the laws of social distancing are followed, as are cultural events (cinemas and concert halls will open starting June 21, 2020). Rouhani added that, starting June 21, 2020, Friday prayers will be resumed in the medium-risk “yellow areas” after the low-risk “white areas” resumed worship on May 16, 2020. In any case, the decision to reopen Friday prayers lies in the hands of this committee.

Friday prayers in an Iranian mosque.
Friday prayers in an Iranian mosque. “After 10 weeks another Friday prayer was held by observing the health points and the work of Basij and Red Crescent.”2 (Tasnim News)

Rouhani said that the Iranian government has four key commitments: protecting public health, providing basic social services (water, electric gas), providing basic supplies from domestic production, and assistance packages for those in need. In this regard, Rouhani said that the Ministry of Health has begun the third phase of operating targeted health services for populations in need and those more vulnerable to the virus (the obese, senior population, and people with pre-existing medical conditions).

During the June 6, 2020, meeting to discuss the economy, Rouhani said the government is committed to helping the poor and disadvantaged populations despite the sanctions and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. “The aid packages for the needy families are designed to mitigate the dire effects of the difficult economic situation, he said.” Earlier in the speech, he marked the 31st anniversary of Khomeini’s death and the June 5/Khordad 15, 1963 uprising (when Khomeini was arrested).  President Rouhani also said that Iran marked 100 days of coping with the coronavirus pandemic and that Iran stands in “relatively good” economic condition thanks to the contribution of the various sectors.

Meanwhile, speaking before the Iranian parliament on June 7, 2020, Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Farhad Dejpasan reported that Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrunk 15 percent because of the pandemic.3

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