Five former health ministers in Iran have urged the government to limit inter-city travel and close non-essential businesses in order to reduce the pace of coronavirus infections in the country.
The former ministers, who are all medical doctors by profession, in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani have argued that one month after the start of the epidemic, “The trend of the disease and its consequences continue to show an upward trajectory and it has not declined in any part of the country”.
In their letter, published by Fars news agency, the former ministers spoke of “dozens of people” dying in Iran daily, with incalculable losses and have warned the government that the disease must be controlled.
They urged the government to take “fundamental steps” and reduce contact between those infected and healthy people. “Limiting movement of people, holiday trips, shtting non-essential businesses and big shopping centers” are necessary, they argued.
As medical professional the former ministers tell the government that immediately and for a period of two weeks all non-essential activities must stop. They tell Rouhani that if the government does not heed their advice, it would be putting people’s lives at risk.
President Rouhani and other officials have resisted quarantines and have only urged people to take precautions. Critics say that if the government from the very beginning has quarantines some hotspots, such as the religious city of Qom, COVID-19 would not have quickly spread throughout the country.
One reason for the government' reluctance to restrict non-essential activities might be its desire to maintain as much economic activity as possible, given the country's dire financial situation.