News ID: 267256
Published: 1034 GMT April 04, 2020

Rouhani: Social distancing to go smart amid virus outbreak

Rouhani: Social distancing to go smart amid virus outbreak
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that the government seeks to follow up on its existing social distancing plan with a new ‘smart distancing’ initiative to curb the outbreak of COVID-19.

Speaking during a meeting in the National Headquarters to Fight the Coronavirus, Rouhani said that the first and second phases of the country’s social distancing plan had attained “good achievements”.
“Currently, we are in the third phase which consists of smart distancing; its specifications have to be laid out,” he said.
Iran has set out specific guidelines restricting certain occupations and transit in and between cities as part of the social distancing initiative to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking on Saturday, Rouhani urged different committees within the anti-coronavirus headquarters to conduct precise evaluations of social distancing initiative’s results for further planning.
“Various protocols have to be meticulously designed for different occupations and fields for the reopening period after becoming certain that the management of the coronavirus has reached a stable state,” he said.
“Medical protocols have to be designed in a way so that the public can be largely assured of its health and safety by adhering to them outside the house and at work,” he added.
The president noted that if the virus is going to be around for a longer time, the government should handle the disease in way that it affects people's lives less.
 
Iran’s strategy
Speaking to reporters in a videoconference on Saturday, Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said that “smart distancing” was based on a number of principles.
“One principle is that we are fighting both the coronavirus and sanctions; therefore economic issues have to be considered in the smart distancing strategy,” he said.
The deputy health minister added that another principle of the plan was the gradual reopening of certain occupations under constant evaluation.
He added that another component of the initiative was the exemption of vulnerable groups from participating in the reopening stage of jobs and occupations.
Harirchi added that Tehran eyed two main goals in its strategy against the coronavirus: “Reducing the disease’s death rate and contagion and secondly reducing the social and economic effects of the outbreak”.
“Our country is fighting on two fronts -- the coronavirus and criminal sanctions -- and therefore we need to achieve a balance between both of these goals,” he said.
The deputy health minister also lauded the general public for cooperating with existing social distancing guidelines despite the Persian New Year, which took place last month.
Harirchi, however, expressed concern about a spike in transit within the capital city of Tehran on Saturday.
“These people may spread the disease to their homes or workplaces,” he said.
“The moderate presence of the disease in Tehran can cause its spread due to the importance of the Tehran Province,” he added.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak climbed to 3,452 on Saturday, with 158 more fatalities recorded over the past 24 hours, the highest number of deaths a day since the beginning of the outbreak in the country, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.
The total number of cases diagnosed with the disease reached 55,743, of whom 4,103 are in critical condition, he said on state TV.
Iran is the country worst affected by the pandemic in the Middle East.
The government has banned all intercity travel until at least April 8, and has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home. There is no official lockdown inside Iran's cities. 
Authorities have closed schools and universities as well as four key Shia pilgrimage destinations, including the shrine in Qom, the city where the first deaths were reported.  
They have also canceled the main weekly Friday prayers and temporarily closed Parliament.
Press TV, Reuters and AFP contributed to this story. 
   
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