TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Saturday urged authorities to prioritize public health above any economic or security concerns.
Ayatollah Khamenei told officials during a meeting with the country’s top counter-coronavirus committee that "the main priority in decision-making is people’s health.”
The Leader urged "all organizations” to follow strictly the health ministry’s guidelines to help restrict the virus’ spread, "regardless of other considerations.”
There is need, he said, to immediately launch a follow-up base and affiliated committees to implement the decisions of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus and monitor their implementation.
The Ministry of Health should also be given centrality in determining and charting out restrictions related to the new coronavirus, he said.
"Once the Ministry of Health has determined the instances of the restriction, other bodies must comply with them, without taking into account any considerations.”
Ayatollah Khamenei said strict control of the country’s entry points, restriction of unnecessary intercity traffic along with public persuasion and strict application of rules in the urban transport fleet and public environments are examples of restrictions and the main responsibility for implementing and supervising them lies with the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus and law enforcement forces.
The Leader also touched on the living and employment conditions of some people which have become more difficult by the implementation of strict coronavirus regulations.
"In this regard, the government should consider support packages, while donors and other people should also enter the field and come to the aid of these people, because this is one of the best deeds and the best means of approaching God.”
"All of that which has been said are only tools, and what gives spirit to these tools is the Almighty God. We should beseech God and ask for His help in passing through this difficulty. And His mercy has always been upon the Iranian nation,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
Some lawmakers have criticized Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s management of the pandemic.
Ayatollah Khamenei indirectly condemned inflammatory statements in the meeting, calling it "wrong.” He said there is a difference between criticisms and insults.
"It’s alright to criticize but this is different from insulting and denigrating. Denigrating is the U.S.’s way in debates, etc. They have disgraced themselves in the world to the extent that a prominent American political figure said the world is watching the U.S. in horror and scorn,” the Leader said.
The Leader said Iran at the current critical time requires "cooperation, unity and solidarity” more than ever.
"In some countries, such as the United States, the worst management has been applied, but we must try to deal with this phenomenon which is linked to the lives and health of the people and their security and economy with the best management,” the Leader said.
The prerequisite for proper management is "taking decisive governance decisions”, "convincing public opinion” and securing "cooperation of all institutions as well as the cooperation of the people,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
"This cooperation, however, is not limited to countering the coronavirus; rather, it must exist in all issues, especially political issues, because the country, which has a strong nation, a new system and a new discourse, is naturally faced with major problems in the global and domestic arenas.”
Despite all these problems, "great work is underway in the country, and by God’s grace, no incident has been able to stop the Islamic Republic, but these obstacles, which are slowing down the momentum, must be removed as soon as possible,” the Leader added.
Ayatollah Khamenei also praised the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus and its affiliated committees, calling the performance of the medical and health personnel "very brilliant” and their practice as "jihad in the way of Allah”.
Before the speech, President Rouhani briefed the Leader on measures taken by his administration to counter the coronavirus in the past eight months.
"At the moment, there is no way to deal with this virus other than observing health and prevention guidelines,” he said.
Rouhani said like the Iraqi war of the 1980s during which Iran was not allowed to buy military equipment, "almost no one provided us with the necessary equipment such as diagnostic kits, respirators, ICU facilities and even masks at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.”
"Relying on knowledge-based companies, we produced these devices quickly and now we have no problem,” the president said.
Through the coronavirus, he said, "it became clear to us how important it is for us to rely on our inner strengths and facilities and not to look at the hands of others.”
"We realized that in rainy days, we should stand on our own feet because others will not support us even in matters of human rights, health and saving the lives of human beings, despite their slogan” to the contrary, he added.
Rouhani also said both Iran’s Ministry of Health and other experts believe the coronavirus wreaking havoc in recent months is a mutated form of a European virus whose speed and transmission intensity has increased nine-fold.