A deputy health minister has sent a letter to the heads of Iran's state-run medical sciences universities to instruct them to halt cosmetic surgeries until further notice "due to the requirement to manage hospital beds".
Hospitals run by medical universities are financed and controlled by the state.
The new measure reflects the deep concerns of health authorities about the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks.
In his letter, Dr. Qassem Janbabai has said that the pattern of allocation of hospital beds needs to be revised due to the increasing number of COVID-19 patients who need hospitalization. However, he exempted non-cosmetic plastic surgeries and said they could still be performed. The content of the letter was reported by Mehr news agency on June 2.
Tehran has been dubbed as the "nose job capital of the world". Cosmetic surgeries and procedures such as rhinoplasty and hair transplants are extremely popular in Iran and are regularly carried out in state-run hospitals. Iran has the highest rate of rhinoplasties, both for women and men, in the world. As many as 200,000 plastic nose surgeries a year are done in Iran. Tummy tucks, facelifts and similar procedures are also popular.
Dr. Janbabai on Friday warned about the instability of the situation and said none of the country's provinces, even those currently in the "white" category, are safe as long as people neglect the health advice and social distancing measures communicated to the public. He also said businesses that fail to observe recommended health protocols and social distancing rules should be shut down.
According to the latest official announcement on Friday, the number of Iran's coronavirus deaths since February increased to 11,260 with 154 more deaths since Thursday. In mid-June the daily deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in two months surpassed the 100 mark. The daily number of deaths is now around 150.
The total number of infections since February stands at more than 235,000 according to official numbers. But since all the information is highly centralized and the government withholds breakdown of coronavirus numbers, many have questioned the accuracy of the figures.
In recent weeks Iran has seen a spike in new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Authorities claim that the peak is not so much related to lifting the partial lockdown and opening businesses as to people's negligence of social distancing and other preventative measures such as wearing masks in public places.