Calls for President Rouhani to take helm of Iran committee fighting coronavirus

Press TV – Calls have been growing for Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to personally take charge of a crisis committee formed to manage the nationwide fight against a coronavirus epidemic that has gripped several provinces.

In a statement addressed to President Rouhani on Tuesday, a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outlined a set of emergency measures that the government could take to promote its efforts to rein in COVID-19, as the novel coronavirus is called.

They highlighted the need for Rouhani, as the country’s chief executive, to take over the crisis committee’s leadership from the Health Ministry to pave the way for better coordination among the country’s executive institutions.

It is, however, natural that the Health Ministry should still remain in charge of handling the crisis and devising the healthcare policies and guidelines, the statement said.

The signatories to the statement said the government needs to follow the strategy of giving “priority to prevention over treatment.”

They also called for the government to provide transparent information on the disease and its aftermath to the public, place worst-hit provinces under lockdown, and make effective use of medical aid deliveries from the World Health Organization (WHO) and foreign countries, among other measures.

Meanwhile, an Iranian lawmaker said Tuesday that Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is said to have called for President Rouhani to assume the leadership of the national committee.

First Deputy Parliament Speaker Masoud Pezeshkian told a television program late Tuesday that Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani had written to the Leader, demanding a change in the committee’s leadership.

Pezeshkian said the letter had been penned following an hours-long meeting of lawmakers and Health Minister Saeed Namaki.

“The letter — as far as I know — was about lifting the burden from the Health Ministry’s shoulders and passing it on to the government. In that meeting, it was proposed that the first vice president or another person take charge of the committee,” he said.

“As I have heard, the Leader has written in response that the president should personally assume the responsibility and lead the operations to combat the disease,” he added.

More funds allocated to hospitals

The developments come as the country is stepping up the battle against the virus.

On Tuesday, 4,000 billion rials (almost $95,000) were allocated to equip hospitals, provide their essential supplies and pay their personnel.

It came upon an order issued by Head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization Mohammad Bagher Nobakht.

The epidemic has so far killed 291 people in Iran and infected 8,042 others, out of whom 2,731 have recovered.