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Khamenei Issues Statement Thanking Health Workers In Their Fight Against Coronavirus

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen on stage during a religious lecture in Tehran, February 23, 2020

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei released a taped video statement February 27, responding to the coronavirus crisis in the country, thanking officials and healthcare workers and expressing hope to overcome the epidemic.

However, Khamenei did not mention any government efforts and plans or the extent of the epidemic in his brief statement.

Iran has the highest infection death rate in the world after China in the eight days since it announced the first cases of the disease and the first two fatalities.

According to official figures, 26 people have died and close to 250 have been diagnosed with COVIS-19, revealing a much higher death rate from infections than the world average of around 3 percent.

In his video statement, Khamenei repeatedly thanks all involved in combatting the disease and expresses his hope that the epidemic does not last much longer.

Citizens, experts and politicians have criticized the government handling of coronavirus on many fronts. First, many suspect authorities were aware of the spread of the virus well before their first announcement on February 19, when two people died on the same day. Second, few believe the number of deaths and infectious cases the government has announced. Specially in case of diagnosed cases, people say the true number must be much higher when 26 people have already died.

Authorities have also reacted slowly in cancelling events, closing schools and have refused to quarantine highly infected cities and towns.

Khamenei did not speak about government efforts and plans or the extent of the epidemic in his brief statement.