Iran reimposes restrictive virus measures in Tehran

Tehran (AFP) –

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Iran on Saturday reimposed measures in Tehran province to contain the novel coronavirus, state TV reported, shutting public spaces and cancelling events days after confirming another record number of cases.

The measures went into force on Saturday and were set to last a week, the broadcaster said, citing an order by the Tehran governor's office.

Under the restrictions, universities and education centres, mosques, cinemas, museums, wedding halls, beauty salons, gyms, cafes, zoos and swimming pools would be closed, state TV reported.

"Cultural and social events and conferences" were cancelled and Friday prayers would not be held, it added.

The Islamic republic confirmed a record 3,825 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, surpassing the previous high reported on September 22.

The restrictions are largely the same as those taken early in the pandemic in Iran, which stopped short of imposing a full lockdown, despite facing the Middle East's deadliest outbreak.

The measures were progressively eased from April to avoid deepening an economic crisis precipitated by the reimposition of heavy sanctions by the United States in 2018.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for heavy fines and punishment for those flouting health protocols.

"We must set harsh fines for those who know they are infected but have not self-quarantined for 14 days or even told others" they have contracted the virus, Rouhani said at a meeting of the national coronavirus taskforce.

He added that government employees who failed to observe regulations could be suspended for one year if first warnings were not heeded.

Not wearing a mask would incur a fine and businesses could be closed down if health regulations were not respected, according to the president.

Iran's health ministry on Saturday announced 3,523 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total number of cases since February to 468,119.

The day's death toll of 179 brought the number of fatalities due to the disease to 26,746.