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Coronavirus Restrictions In Iranian Capital Extended Again As Total Deaths Tops 19,000

IRAN -- Iranian women wearing face masks ride a bus amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in the capital Tehran, August 9, 2020

The Iranian capital of Tehran will remain on partial lockdown for an additional week, the city’s Coronavirus Combat Taskforce announced on Thursday, following the reinstatement of COVID-19 restrictions on July 23 after a surge in cases impacted the city.

Dr. Alireza Zali, Commander of the Coronavirus Taskforce of Tehran, confirmed that 534 COVID-19 patients were admitted to Tehran hospitals since Wednesday, 137 of whom entered intensive care units. Dr. Zali did not announce the number of deaths in the city, however, with Iranian health authorities continuing to limit knowledge of death figures in Tehran for "security reasons.”

The partial lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in Tehran includes the closure of coffee shops, cinemas and theaters, beauty salons, language schools, swimming pools and gyms, mosques and shrines, wedding halls and libraries, and bans all gatherings of over 10 people, such as seminars and funerals. The taskforce also made wearing masks compulsory on public transport, as well as in government offices, where one-third of the staff have been sent home to work remotely.

According to Dr. Zali, protective measures have successfully reduced the number of new COVID-19 cases, precautions including wearing masks, observing health protocols and cutting the number of staff present in offices.

The taskforce also announced Thursday that normal traffic restrictions in the capital would be reinstated, with Dr. Zali claiming that the cancellation of the restrictions, which was instituted on July 23, had no meaningful effect on reducing the use of public transport and the rate of contamination.

Per Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Sima-Sadat Lari, 336,324 total COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country as of Thursday, including 2,625 new cases in the most recent reporting period. With 174 additional deaths over the same period, the total death toll in the country has now reached 19,162, including 164 health workers, and 3,971 COVID-19 patients currently require intensive care.

The Iranian health ministry publishes a daily report of COVID-19 statistics, though the official figures have frequently been contested by critics including health officials, lawmakers and city council members.