Iran Extends COVID Curbs in Capital as Nationwide Deaths Pass 30,000

FILE PHOTO: Iranian people wear protective face shields. REUTERS./

DUBAI, Oct 17 (Reuters) Iran, the Middle Eastern country hardest-hit by the coronavirus, extended restrictions and closures in the capital Tehran into a third week on Saturday as its death toll rose above 30,000.

Schools, mosques, shops, restaurants and other public institutions in Tehran, where the infection rate has been highest, have been closed since Oct. 3, and Tehran province governor Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpey announced an extension of the measures until at least Friday, state media reported.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 253 deaths and 4,103 new cases had been identified in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 30,123.

Iran is experiencing its third surge of coronavirus infections and says its fight against the coronavirus has been hampered by U.S. sanctions, which have limited its crude oil sales and its access to foreign banks.

On Wednesday it reported record daily figures of 279 deaths and 4,830 new coronavirus infections. It has registered more than 250 deaths and 4,000 cases in each of the past six days.

The rial currency was trading at a new low of about 322,000 per dollar on Saturday on the unofficial market, according to the foreign exchange website, hit by worries over new U.S. sanctions that may block some Iranian medicine purchases.

A requirement to wear face masks in public in the capital, imposed last Saturday, remains in effect, as does a ban on travel in and out of five cities including Tehran, which was announced on Wednesday.

([email protected]; Editing by Kevin Liffey)