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EghtesadOnline: Iran must not allow the spread of the new coronavirus to adversely affect the country’s economic recovery, President Hassan Rouhani said, as the death toll from the disease rose to 19 from 139 confirmed cases detected in the past week.

“Although precautionary measures are in place, the coronavirus must not affect work, activities and production,” Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, reported.

According to Financial Tribune, the president noted that economic indices have been promising in the past few months and the trend will continue if “we refuse to let the enemy use the virus as a weapon against us”.

The latest data released by the Statistical Center of Iran show the downtrend in average annual inflation, which started as of the ninth Iranian month (Nov. 22-Dec. 21), has continued. A 21.5% increase in new industrial investments is expected.

Rouhani said hostile states have been tirelessly at work to undermine the Iranian economy, and warned of efforts by them to use the epidemic as a pretext to add pressure on the country’s economic infrastructure.

The United States has mounted a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran since its exit from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and Iranian officials believe that quarantines or the shutdown of markets due to the spread of the virus could further rattle businesses.

The president announced that “cities or stores will absolutely not be put under lockdown.” 

“[At most], anyone who displays symptoms will be isolated,” he said.

Rouhani also dismissed claims that the government is downplaying the crisis or tampering with the number of confirmed cases.



Emergency Measures

Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of Health Ministry’s Media Center, said samples taken from suspected patients are tested in seven laboratories across the country.

“The number of centers for the diagnosis of COVID-19 will increase to 15 by the end of the week and hopefully to 22 next week to accelerate the response time to coronavirus,” he added.

The Committee for the National Fight Against Coronavirus as the main authority on the subject, established upon the president’s order, was expected to decide on the shutdown of schools and universities by Wednesday evening.

Ali Rabiei, the committee’s spokesman, reported that they are reviewing the consequences of closing educational institutions, as well as their economic implications.

The committee, headed by Health Minister Saeed Namaki, also announced that factories are working multiple shifts to produce facemasks and disinfectants, adding that the products, which are currently in short supply, will soon be widely distributed.

A stock of three million hoarded masks was confiscated in Tehran on Tuesday. In the week following the virus outbreak in Iran, the price of masks and disinfectants has soared.


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