Iran Urges People to Wear Face Masks Amid Fears of New Coronavirus Wave

FILE PHOTO: An Iranian man wears a protective face mask, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he walks in Vali-E-Asr street, in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2020.

DUBAI, June 8 (Reuters) Iran‘s health ministry urged people on Monday to wear face masks in public areas, state television reported, following warnings that the Islamic Republic could face a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Health officials said last week there could be a second, stronger wave of novel coronavirus infections if people ignored social distancing rules.

Iran‘s death toll from the coronavirus reached 8,351 on Monday, with 70 deaths in the previous 24 hours, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said. The number of new cases had dipped to 2,043, he said, bringing the total to 173,832.

“Everyone should wear masks when attending public places like shops or any other places where fully observing social distancing is not possible,” Jahanpur said.

With 3,574 new infections, Iran recorded its highest number of cases in a single day last Thursday. The authorities have said wider testing may be a reason for the increase in the number of cases reported.

Iran imposed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in mid-April. It started easing them after the daily number of deaths and infected cases fell, partly out of concern about the impact of the measures on the sanctions-hit economy.

But the rate of reported infections rose again in May, and the government has been forced to reimpose restrictions in some provinces after localised outbreaks.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Timothy Heritage)