News ID: 269719
Published: 0224 GMT June 01, 2020

Minister: Iran risks second coronavirus wave if people ignore restrictions

Minister: Iran risks second coronavirus wave if people ignore restrictions

Iran could face a second, stronger wave of novel coronavirus infections if people ignore guidance and social distancing rules, Health Minister Saeid Namaki said on Monday.

Iran, one of the worst-hit countries in the West Asia region, started easing its lockdown in April after a drop in deaths.

But May saw an uptick in the rate of reported infections compared with mid-April to late April – an acceleration the government put down to increased testing.

"People seem to think the coronavirus is over... some officials also believe everything" is back to normal, Namaki said in a news conference broadcast on state TV.

"The outbreak is not over yet and at any moment it may come back stronger than before," Namaki said.

"If our people fail to respect the health protocols ... we must prepare ourselves for the worst situation."

"The coronavirus is not only far from over, but we could at any moment see (another) dangerous peak," he added.

Government employees went back to work and mosques resumed daily prayers on Saturday as part of the relaxation of the lockdown.

But authorities had to reimpose restrictions in the southern provinces of Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchestan in mid-May after an uptick of cases there.

Iran on Monday announced almost 3,000 new coronavirus infections, its highest daily count in two months.

Heath Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour raised Iran's caseload to 154,445 with 2,979 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours.

He added that the virus had claimed another 81 lives in the past day, up by 18 compared with Sunday and raising the total to 7,878.

Jahanpour said that 2,578 cases are in critical condition while 121,004 people have recovered so far.

He noted that 955,865 tests have so far been carried out since the virus outbreak in the country.

According to Namaki, the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan, Kermanshah, and Hormuzgan are currently struggling with surges in infections.

He added that half of Iran's fatalities for the past day were recorded in three provinces, without naming them.

"If this continues, deaths can reach three digits again."

Khuzestan remains "red", the highest level on Iran's color-coded risk scale, and is the only province where the government has reimposed a lockdown.

"We pleaded with the people to not hold weddings or funerals but they did not listen" especially in Khuzestan, said Namaki.


IRNA, Reuters, and AFP contributed to this story.



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