Iran's Khamenei calls for every effort to stop Covid-19 spread

Tehran (AFP) –


Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for stiff action to stem rising cases of novel coronavirus, in a rare public meeting with the national committee battling the pandemic.

"We must do everything" to reduce the number of deaths, Khamenei said, adding that health officials "must ensure that infected people are identified and treated from the start" of their sickness.

Iran is struggling with recent records highs of daily deaths from Covid-19.

Khamenei has, since the start of the pandemic, largely participated in meetings remotely via video-conference.

But on Saturday he joined the weekly meeting of the coronavirus taskforce in person, hosted by President Hassan Rouhani, with members all masked and separated by large spaces.

Khamenei called for "the need to adopt severe penalties for those who commit major violations of health regulations" established by the health ministry in order to stop the pandemic.

The "basis and the priority in all decision-making is the health of the people," Khamenei said, noting that "an autumn resurgence of Covid-19 is occurring all over the world".

Iran said the total number of victims rose on Saturday to 32,320, with 562,705 cases recorded.