TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- President Hassan Rouhani has hailed Iran’s "acceptable” handling of the novel coronavirus, saying the disease has cemented national unity despite all the hardships it has caused.
Speaking during a cabinet meeting here on Sunday, Rouhani said that in addition to the suffering and pain it has caused, the virus has led to "great achievements” which should be upheld.
"Besides all the suffering, a unity was created. We should not let it fade,” he said. "We have found a valuable social capital which benefits everyone,” he added.
Rouhani also underlined the need to preserve the mutual trust created between the government and people in the course of the fight against the fast-spreading respiratory disease.
"Our situation is good when the statistics are compared with those of other countries, including in Europe and the West.”
Rouhani said Iran is handling the disease under abnormal conditions because of unilateral U.S. sanctions on the country. "While under sanctions, we have been able to resist well and run the country as good as possible.”
The president dismissed some criticism of his government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it has to weigh protecting the economy while tackling the pandemic.
"Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” he said. "We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”
Iran’s health minister said late Thursday that the country’s international standing in regards to containing the coronavirus outbreak will "greatly change” in coming days.
"Due to advances in our diagnosis capability, we have been able to identify more COVID-19 cases in the country,” Namaki said.
"Signs of their recovery will further emerge in the following days; this will completely transform Iran’s situation on the world stage,” he added.
Namaki made the comments while speaking on the sidelines of a video conference with officials of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.
During the meeting, the WHO officials praised Iran’s anti-coronavirus initiative, known as the "national mobilization against the coronavirus”, and called for the application of Iran’s experience in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Under the country’s "national mobilization against the coronavirus” campaign, Iran has sought to conduct a nationwide examination to identify COVID-19 patients and manage its response against the outbreak.
In his remarks on Thursday, Namaki said that more than 90 percent of the initiative’s target population had been "covered”.
Namaki had said on Wednesday that over 67 million Iranians had been screened for the disease.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting with WHO officials, Namaki stressed that Iran’s "positive situation” among the countries in the eastern Mediterranean region was due to public cooperation.
The health minister added that Iran has yet to fully control the disease and that physical distancing restrictions imposed across the country will be extended as planned until next week.
Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus rose on Friday to 3,294 as it claimed 134 lives in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur said.
The total number of people confirmed to be infected is 53,183, he said, adding that 4,035 ware "under observation”.
Of the total number of people who were diagnosed with the disease, 17,935 have recovered, he said.