Virus-hit Iran says masks com­pul­sory from next week

Arab News - - News Middle East - AFP Tehran

Iran said on Sun­day it will make mask-wear­ing manda­tory in cer­tain ar­eas and has al­lowed virus-hit prov­inces to reim­pose re­stric­tions, as novel coro­n­avirus deaths mounted in the Mid­dle East’s worst-hit coun­try. The new steps were an­nounced as Iran counted 144 new fa­tal­i­ties from the COVID-19 dis­ease, its high­est death toll for a sin­gle day in al­most three months.

The Is­lamic repub­lic has re­frained from en­forc­ing full lock­downs to stop the pan­demic’s spread, and the use of masks and pro­tec­tive equip­ment has been op­tional in most ar­eas.

Pres­i­dent Hassan Rouhani said Iran would have to live with the virus for the “long haul,” as he an­nounced the lat­est mea­sures to com­bat it. Mask-wear­ing would be “oblig­a­tory in cov­ered spa­ces where there are gath­er­ings,” he said dur­ing a tele­vised meet­ing of the coun­try’s anti-virus task­force.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the mea­sure would come into force as of next week, con­tinue un­til July 22 and would be ex­tended if nec­es­sary. Rouhani said the Health Min­istry had de­vised “a clear list” of the types of spa­ces and gath­er­ings deemed high-risk, but he did not elab­o­rate. He also did not say what the penalty would be for those who fail to ob­serve the mea­sure.

Ac­cord­ing to Deputy Health Min­is­ter Iraj Harirchi, ser­vices would not be pro­vided to those without masks in ar­eas such as gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions and shop­ping malls. But im­ple­ment­ing the mea­sure may be dif­fi­cult, as ac­cord­ing to Tehran’s mayor, many do not wear masks in places like the cap­i­tal’s pub­lic trans­port net­work, where it is al­ready manda­tory.

“Fifty per­cent of metro pas­sen­gers wear masks ... and even fewer in buses,” Mayor Pirouz Hanachi was quoted as say­ing by the semi-of­fi­cial ISNA news agency.

“We can’t force­fully con­front peo­ple without masks,” he added. Iran re­ported its first COVID-19 cases on Fe­bru­ary 19 and it has since strug­gled to con­tain the out­break.

The Health Min­istry on Sun­day an­nounced 144 virus deaths in the past 24 hours, its high­est for a sin­gle day since April 5, rais­ing the to­tal to 10,508.

Spokes­woman Sima Sa­dat Lari also raised to­tal con­firmed in­fec­tions to 222,669, with 2,489 new cases dur­ing the same pe­riod. Of­fi­cial fig­ures have shown an up­ward tra­jec­tory in new con­firmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded in­fec­tions.

NUM­BER new fa­tal­i­ties were counted in Iran from the COVID-19 dis­ease, its high­est death toll for a sin­gle day in al­most three months.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saudi Arabia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.