Iran tightens COVID-19 curbs as infections continue to rise

Partial shutdown imposed in Tehran a week ago extended till October 16 as government announces new penalties.

Wearing face masks while outdoors has been made mandatory in Tehran [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu]
Wearing face masks while outdoors has been made mandatory in Tehran [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu]

Iran has imposed additional restrictions for capital Tehran and set penalties for people flouting the rules as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the country.

A partial shutdown implemented in Tehran a week ago was extended on Saturday until October 16 as the authorities classified the city as red in a colour-coded scale denoting the severity of the pandemic.

The shutdown includes cafes, universities, schools, museums, salons, cinemas, events and exhibitions, sport centres and even Friday prayers among other things.

Wearing face masks while outdoors has also been made mandatory in Tehran effective Saturday, with violators facing a fine of 500,000 rials ($1.6), officials said.

Businesses in the city have been ordered not to offer services to people who do not wear masks, with violating outlets even facing a shutdown.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari on Saturday said 195 more people lost their lives to the novel coronavirus across Iran, bringing the total death toll to 28,293.

Across Iran’s 32 provinces, most of which are classified as red, 3,875 more active COVID-19 cases were recorded, bringing the total to 496,253.

Iran recorded its highest single-day death toll on October 7, when 239 fatalities were reported. The highest daily cases, 4,151, were recorded a day before that.

Following a meeting of the national anti-coronavirus task force on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani announced new penalties for people who ignored the pandemic rules.

The highest penalty has been set at 2 million rials ($6.6) for people infected with the virus who knowingly endanger others by not quarantining for two weeks.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Saturday said people found to be COVID-19 positive will be tracked through several means, including their phone’s location. “If they exit the house, heavy fines will be levied against them,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Rouhani thanked people for adhering to health protocols as they observed Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day since the anniversary of the death of Hussein.

Rouhani also said Iran has earmarked $100m to buy coronavirus test kits that give results faster, without specifying the origin of the purchase.

Source : Al Jazeera

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