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World News

Iran says public too lax over COVID-19 rules, as cases, deaths hit records

FILE PHOTO: People walk at a cemetery, where dead people and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) victims are buried, South of Tehran, Iran October 22, 2020. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranians are being too lax in complying with COVID-19 restrictions, the government said on Tuesday, as the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country faced new daily records of infections and deaths.

A record daily death toll of 346 pushed the total toll to 33,299, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state media. New cases set a record of 6,968, bringing the total to 581,824 in a third big wave of infections this year.

“According to the latest figures, the rate of compliance with health protocols is 57.7%, which is very low. We need to raise compliance during this epidemic ... More than ever, we need national strength and empathy,” said Lari, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.

The authorities have ordered residents in Tehran to wear masks in public. Many public sector workers in the capital have been told to stay home every second day.

Non-essential businesses have been shut in Tehran and dozens of other cities. Schools, theatres and museums have been shut and social, cultural and religious events cancelled for at least a week, with authorities saying the measures could be extended.

Alireza Zali, head of the Tehran coronavirus taskforce, suggested police could be tougher on those who flout the rules.

“We are going through bitter coronavirus days in the capital and we should expect to see strict measures on (enforcing compliance with) health protocols,” Zali told a gathering of police officials, according to IRNA.

“In the latest opinion poll we had, citizens asked us to deal decisively with offenders.”

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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