DUBAI, Oct 21 (Reuters)┬áIran‘s health ministry on Wednesday reported 5,616 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, the highest daily number since February, bringing the national tally to 545,286 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 312 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,346.

To stem a third wave of the outbreak, authorities have urged people to avoid unnecessary trips and stay home, warning that hospitals in Tehran and some other major cities are overflowing with coronavirus patients.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Saeed Namaki appealed for more public and government support to enforce restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Earlier this month, mask-wearing became mandatory in public in Tehran, where the government said violators would be fined. The government on Saturday extended restrictions and closures in the capital into a third week.

Authorities plan to impose similar restrictions in other cities, where the infection rates are high.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Graff)

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