Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a speech on Thursday said the coronavirus situation should not cause distraction from "enemy plots".
"The [world] arrogance is an enemy of the principle of the Islamic Republic. What some people think – that they will not be hostile if we do not show hostility – is not a sound judgement," the Iranian Supreme Leader said in his speech.
"World arrogance" in Islamic Republic jargon is the United States and Western Europe.
In his annual speech on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the 12th Shiite Imam which was broadcast live, Khamenei also said the coronavirus pandemic was "a small problem" compared with the other misfortunes that Iran and the world have experienced before. Khamenei's previous speeches on this occasion were always delivered in the presence of a massive crowd.
"In the history of mankind there has rarely been an era when humanity needed a savior as much as today, whether consciously or subconsciously," he said. "Coronavirus has caused a pandemic and is a test for the whole world, both governments and nations," he added.
In his speech Khamenei also praised the country's healthcare workers as well as seminary students, Basij militia members and the armed forces for doing "all in their power" since late February when a coronavirus was officially acknowledged by Iranian authorities.
"Everyone should observe the guidelines of the National Committee for Combating coronavirus. Even religious gatherings are canceled in Iran, which is unprecedented in our history. But it's unavoidable," Khamenei said.
The Iranian religious establishment strongly protested to the closure of shrines and mosques in the earlier days of the outbreak. For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic, the famous mosque of Jamkaran near Qom is closed to pilgrims this year. According to some Shiite sources Jamkaran is where the promised Imam manifested himself to a man more than a thousand years ago and ordered him to build the mosque.