TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says strategies and health recommendations adopted by Iran’s health ministry and its national headquarters, set up to manage a nationwide fight against the coronavirus outbreak, are compulsory for all Iranians.
In a message issued late Sunday to commend efforts being made to contain the outbreak, Ayatollah Khamenei said a national mobilization plan drawn up to combat the coronavirus has both scientific and religious support.
"It is an efficient plan and is the very measure, which God willing, will turn the scourge into blessing and the threat into opportunity,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.
The Leader also thanked efforts made by Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki and his ministry to contain the coronavirus and wished them success.
The ministry has urged Iranians to stick to guidelines and stay at home to stop the new coronavirus spreading.
People "should cancel all travel and stay at home so that we may see the situation improving in the coming days,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.
Jahanpour called on Iranians to "take the coronavirus seriously” and especially to be mindful of elderly people who are most vulnerable to the infection.
Several politicians and officials, both sitting and former, have been infected with the new coronavirus, and some have died from the illness.
The authorities announced on Sunday that the second round of legislative elections, scheduled for April 17, had been postponed until September 11.
Business tax, loan paybacks and payment of bills will be delayed until late May to alleviate economic pressure during the outbreak, according to President Hassna Rouhani.
The government will also give cash handouts to three million impoverished Iranian households with breadwinners working "as peddlers or those with temporary jobs” ranging from 2-6 million rials in four stages.
Another four million households will receive low-rate loans from between 10-20 million rials ($63-$127) with the government subsidizing part of its payback.
Iran’s Health Ministry said on Sunday the country had screened more than 10 million people for the new coronavirus symptoms as it goes all out against the outbreak.
Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raeisi said the screening had been carried out over a span of four days. "6.5 million individuals were screened at health centers, and 3.7 million others via the online platform,” he said.
In all, 900 people were hospitalized among those who tested positive for the virus, the official said.
Raeisi warned that visiting hospitals raised the risk of infection to 40 percent, advising people to register their symptoms via the instead salamat.gov.ir online service.
People potentially requiring hospitalization will be provided with relevant instructions by the ministry’s experts who will call them, he added.
Iran’s volunteer Basij forces were helping people by handing out sanitary items to the public in Tehran on Sunday.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hussein Salami said on Monday the conditions right now to contain the virus.
Gen. Salami touched on the IRGC’s efforts to bring the outbreak under control, saying the force’s Baqiatallah Hospital has provided the largest number of beds for coronavirus patients in the country.
His remarks came as China urged the United States to lift sanctions on Iran immediately.
The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 853 people and infected 14,991.
"Continued sanction on Iran was against humanitarianism and hampers Iran’s epidemic response & delivery of humanitarian aid by the UN and other organizations,” China’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a tweet.
Iran said last week it had asked the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization Muhammad-Baqer Nobakht on Sunday strongly criticized the United States for its illegal and unilateral sanctions against the Iranian people amid the outbreak.
He called the Trump administration’s attitude "adversarial and inhumane,” noting that Washington continues to impose new sanctions on the Iranian nation, while at the same time, it is falsely offering help.
The Americans "are not even abandoning their medical sanctions against Iran under these tough circumstances,” Nikbakht said, adding the U.S. does not even allow Iran to sell its oil in order to buy medicine.
Nevertheless, Iran stands tall in the face of all the vicissitudes and is confident it will defeat the sanctions and the coronavirus, he said.