TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday called the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in Iran "truly sorrowful” and urged all citizens to help stem the outbreak.
"Let everyone play their part in the best way to break the chain of transmission in the short term and save the country,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a video conference with lawmakers.
Iran has been struggling to contain the outbreak since announcing its first cases in February and has reported more than 12,800 deaths since then.
Ayatollah Khamenei praised healthcare workers for "their sacrifices”, but he also strongly criticized "some people who do not even do something as simple as wearing a mask”.
"I’m really ashamed of that nurse who offers services with dedication,” the Leader said.
Infections have again been on the rise in Iran since early May. According to figures announced Sunday, 194 deaths from the COVID-19 disease and 2,186 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.
In total, 257,303 cases have been reported in the country, including 12,829 deaths, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said Sunday in a televised press conference.
The outbreak’s rising toll has prompted authorities to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and to allow the hardest hit provinces to reimpose restrictive measures.
Iran had closed schools, cancelled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government progressively lifted restrictions from April to reopen its economy.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday Iran cannot afford to shut down its economy amid the most draconian U.S. sanctions which are hampering the country’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Ayatollah Khamenei on Sunday likened Iran’s economic problems to a disease. But, "due to its strong endurance and power, the country is certainly capable of overcoming the disease just as the enemies today admit that they have not been able to achieve their anti-Iran goals despite their toughest sanctions and all-out pressure,” he said.
Ayatollah Khamenei said he is confident that the economic problems can be solved if national self-reliance is boosted, especially among the youth.
"Creating thousands of knowledge-based firms, implementing hundreds of infrastructural projects, the continuous use of new plans and amazing advances in the military and space industries are the result of using just a part of the country’s vast potential which should increase.”
Part of the existing problems, Ayatollah Khamenei said, stems from negligence on the part of some current and former officials.
"If the spirit of national self-reliance and self-confidence grows, particularly among the youth, and false hopes in those outside our borders lessen, I am confidence that economic problems will be resolved.”
Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech was his first to the new parliament
which took office at the end of May, dominated by principlists.
The new parliament, the Leader said, is one of the most powerful and most revolutionary since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
"The presence of motivated, faithful, educated, effective youth along with a number of managers who have good executive experience has made this Majlis a very good and promising one.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said it is important for the new parliament to attend to the main issues of the country and avoid dealing with peripheral maters.
"Under the circumstances, the main issues about the economy are production, employment, curbing inflation, managing the monetary and financial system, and the economy’s independence from oil,” the Leader said.
With regard to social issues, Ayatollah Khamenei said, housing, facilitating marriage for the youth, maintaining the fertility rate and preventing the rise in the country’s aging population, and managing cyberspace are among the main tasks.
The Leader also urged officials to maintain unity in the face of the enemies.
"Today, the enemy front, the most vicious and obscene of which is the United States, has used all its political, economic and propaganda power to bring the strong Iranian nation to its knees.
"In such circumstances, we should join hands against the idiotic enemy and speak with one voice despite our differences in taste and opinion,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.