Rouhani calls for transparent reports on coronavirus to counter rumors, fake news 

March 14, 2020 - 13:32

TEHRAN - President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called on media outlets and relevant officials to produce in time, accurate and transparent reports on the COVID-19 outbreak in order to block the way on fake news and rumors which are intended to undermine the society’s psyche. 

In a meeting with his close team that included the government spokesman, the presidential chief of staff and communications director and his advisor, Rouhani said some ill-wishers are trying to damage the society’s mental tranquility.

He added, “Besides criticizing the shortages, we are obliged to highlight the medical staff’s sacrifices and honest efforts to contain coronavirus outbreak and save the lives of the infected people.”

“Media sector plays a very important role in such cases. They should try to avoid politicizing and polarizing the country’s current atmosphere,” Rouhani underscored.

He added that no country in the world can resist against coronavirus outbreak under maximum pressure of sanctions but Iran has thus far been capable to mitigate the disease’s consequences. 

Rouhani said the measures taken so far to contain the pandemic disease in Iran is acceptable.

On Friday, top commanders of the IRGC, Army and police gathered together on how to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

The session, held at the Imam Reza Health and Treatment Base in Tehran, was headed by Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi; the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Hossein Salami; Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari; Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces for Coordination Affairs Major General Ali Abdollahi; and Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces for Intelligence Affairs Brigadier General Gholamreza Ebrahimi were among the top commanders attending the session. 

The commanders reviewed establishment of the base in detail and exchanged views over its structure in order to activate the headquarters as soon as possible. 

After the meeting, General Baqeri announced that in the next seven or ten days all Iranian citizens would be screened to identify people suspected of the coronavirus infection.

He said the screening would be done either through social media, telephone and if necessary in front of people’s homes.

The healthy people will stay at home but the suspects will be examined in certain medical centers which will be established for the purpose.

The commander said about 1000 mobile and fixed clinics will be added to the country’s health centers for the purpose.

The military chief also said in cooperation with the Interior Ministry the traffic in roads, streets and shopping centers will be limited.  

According to the general, these steps were to go into force from Saturday afternoon.

In a decree on Thursday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the establishment of a “health and treatment headquarters” to prevent further spread of the coronavirus in the country.

In his edict, which was addressed to General Baqeri, Ayatollah Khamenei praised the services to the people by the Armed Forces in their drive to hamper further spread of coronavirus and said, “It is necessary that these services be organized in the form of a health and treatment headquarters.” 

Ayatollah Khamenei added, “In addition to establishing such treatment facilities as field hospitals and infirmaries, and so forth, you must focus on prevention of further spread of this disease through necessary means as well.

“Since there is speculation that this incident might be a ‘biological attack’, this measure could be also some form of biological defense drill, which would add to national power and strength [of the country],” the leader stated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, acknowledging what seemed clear for some time — the virus would likely spread to all countries on the globe.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation would worsen.

“We expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” said Tedros, as the director-general is known.

As of Saturday, 120 countries have reported that 140,000 have contracted COVID-19. over 5,000 people have thus far died.

Following the disease outbreak, the Iranian authorities ordered the closure of schools, universities and cultural and sports events in a bid to contain the outbreak. 

The Iranian Health Ministry announced on Saturday that totally 12,729 nationals have been confirmed infected by the virus, out of whom 611 have lost their lives.

According to the Health Ministry, the health condition of 4,339 patients have improved.