Oct 9 (Reuters) - Iran announced on Friday that non-emergency patients would not be admitted to hospitals due to large numbers of coronavirus patients as the governor of Tehran extended the closure of public places in the capital, which has been the hardest hit.
It was not clear if the hospitals directive, which was announced by deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi, applied to the whole country or just Tehran.
Other countries issued similar orders earlier in the pandemic but this would be the first time Iran has done so. The daily death toll from COVID-19 reached a record of 239 this week in what the ministry says is a third wave of infections.
“Due to the large number of coronavirus outpatients and patients, hospitalization of non-emergency patients is not allowed until further notice,” Harirchi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.
Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran closed for a week on Oct. 3 and the governor extended the closure on Friday for another week. Masks, which had been compulsory in shops, must be worn anywhere in public from Saturday.
Iran has recorded the most infections in the Middle East and underlying the seriousness of the situation, state television showed footage of 211 newly-dug graves at a cemetery outside the capital in preparation for new victims of Covid-19.
Harirchi and other officials urged Iranians not to attend the burial of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Iran’s most celebrated musician after large crowds of fans gathered outside the Tehran hospital where Shajarian died of cancer on Thursday.
The Health Ministry registered 210 deaths on Friday, slightly below the record 239 on Wednesday, taking the total toll to 28,098. There were 4,142 new identified cases, bringing the total to 492,378, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV. The television said the virus now has killed more than 1,5000 in one week.
Some shops and restaurants in Tehran were still open this week and their owners told state TV that they had not received any directive to close. The television showed a vendor striking a female reporter who asked him why he was not wearing a mask and gloves.
firstname.lastname@example.org; editing by Philippa Fletcher
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.