Iran Urges Social Distancing as Coronavirus Cases Top 200,000

Employees wear protective face masks, at a testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tehran, Iran. Reuters./

DUBAI, June 19 (Reuters) – Iran’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 200,000 on Friday, as state media continued to warn about a lack of proper social distancing despite a new surge of infections.

Daily deaths have exceeded 100 most of this week, for the first time in two months. The Health Ministry announced 120 deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 9,392, and 2,615 new cases for a total of 200,262.

State television showed several families picnicking without masks or social distancing. Reminded about the fact that one person was dying every 12 to 15 minutes, an unidentified family father said: “My daughter was getting depressed. We really had to get out of the house.”

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” credit=”REUTERS./” align=”center” lightbox=”off” captionsrc=”custom” caption=”Iranian worshippers attend the Friday prayers in Qarchak Jamee Mosque, in Tehran province, in Qarchak, Iran, June 12, 2020. ” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

The parliamentary research centre issued a report in April suggesting that the actual number of coronavirus deaths might be almost twice the official figure.

State television quoted Hossein Erfani, head of the Health Ministry’s contagious disease care department, as saying provinces will be allowed to decide locally to impose or suspend restrictions in the fight against the virus.

“Depending on whether it is high-, medium- or low-risk, each province and county will decide on imposing necessary restrictions or suspending them,” Erfani said.

Six of Iran’s 31 provinces are currently high-risk coronavirus areas, state said.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey)