The Chairman of the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MCIRI) and tens of high-profile doctors have called on President Hassan Rouhani to reassign the management of the coronavirus crisis to a more authoritative council composed of the heads of the three government powers, or take the responsibility himself.
In a letter, MCIRI, a regulatory body for Iranian healthcare professionals headed by Dr. Mohammad-Reza Zafarqandi, said the Health Ministry lacks the powers and authority required to enforce vital decisions in the management of the crisis such as travel bans, procuring financial resources including foreign currency and the deployment of the military "despite special authorization granted to it".
The Coronavirus Combat Taskforce is headed by the Minister of Health Saeed Namaki. Rumors about his resignation due to interference by other authorities and the restrictions imposed on him have been abundant since late February although denied by the officials of the ministry.
The Health Minister himself has on several occasions publicly implied that the Ministry's authority is being undermined by others, presumably the clerics and their supporters in the Revolutionary Guard who since the beginning of the epidemic have strongly opposed locking down cities such as Qom, the religious capital of Iran where hardliner clerics enjoy broad powers.
Namaki has also criticized other government agencies such as the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade for "deceitfully" promising production of large quantities of protective masks to prevent the spread of the virus.