TEHRAN: Iran President Hassan Rouhani has said that the country cannot afford to shut down its sanctions-hit economy despite the coronavirus outbreak worsens with record-high death tolls and rising cases.
During a televised virus taskforce meeting today (Saturday), Iran President said, “The country must continue economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols.”
Hassan Rouhani further said, “The simplest solution is to close down all activities, but the next day, people would come out to protest the resulting chaos, hunger, hardship, and pressure.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted that Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year. In this regard, Rouhani said, “It is not possible to keep businesses and economic activities shut down in the long-term.
President Rouhani called for the continuation of all economic activities by observing all protective and health protocols. The country’s president also emphasized that the people will not accept this.
Iran has been struggling since late February to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. According to Iran’s Health Ministry, almost 188 people had died from the respiratory disease in the past 24 hours, raising the overall toll to 12,635.
Country’s Health Minister Said Namaki earlier warned of a potential revolt over poverty and blamed US sanctions for the government’s empty coffers.
“The reopening of the economy was not over our ignorance of the virus’ dangers, but it was due to us being on our knees against an economy that could take no more,” the health minister said.
Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.