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The New Arab Staff

Iran nuclear chief tests positive for Covid-19 as infections soar

Ali Akbar Salehi [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2020

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Iran's Nuclear chief is along thousands of people to contract covid-19 in the last month.
Iran's nuclear chief is among nearly 4,000 people to contract coronavirus in the country.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the country's former foreign minister tested positive for covid-19, state media reported on Sunday.

Iranian media reported that "his general condition is good and he continuously monitors the issues of the organisation".

Salehi heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and tested positive for the virus on October 3, the official IRNA news agency reported citing a press release by the AEOI.

The Nuclear chief is said to be feeling "well", and is working from home in a state of self-isolation, a press release said.

The death toll from coronavirus in Iran stands at 239 according to Reuters and is the worst hit country in the Middle East, prompting concern from authorities over a third wave of infections.

President Hassan Rouhani announced that mask-wearing will become mandatory on Saturday, and violators would be fined.

"We have asked the police and the basij (paramilitary volunteers) and other agencies to help us…fight violations more severely," Health Minister Saeed Namaki said.

"It has been decided that this action would start from Tehran and will be extended to other large cities in the coming weeks," Namaki added in an interview by state television.

Masks have been compulsory in indoor public spaces since July, and that will be extended in the coming days.

Mosques, schools, shops, and restaurants in Tehran closed on 3 October for a week in order to control the spread of the virus, and the city’s governor extended the closure for another week.

Hospitals suffering

Iran said on Friday its hospitals had stopped treating non-emergency patients due to the large numbers of coronavirus infections, just days after Tehran extended its lockdown for a second week in a bid to curb a third wave of the virus.

Iranian authorities have issued several warnings recently that hospitals are facing a severe shortage of hospital beds due to the virus, the daily death toll of which reached a record of 239 this week.

"Due to the large number of coronavirus outpatients and patients, hospitalisation of non-emergency patients is not allowed until further notice," Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

State media added that military hospitals will begin to admit civilian coronavirus patients.

Footage of over 100 freshly dug graves prepared for Covid-19 victims was aired on state TV in a bid to communicate the seriousness of the country's situation.

President Hassan Rouhani on Friday condemned a new round of US sanctions on the country's banks as a "cruel, terrorist and inhumane" attempt to prevent the purchase of medicine and food during the pandemic.

Despite Washington's claims that transactions in humanitarian goods such as food and medicine were exempt from sanctions, analysts have said the measures could deter foreign banks from making any transactions with Iran, including for humanitarian goods.

More than 4,000 new cases this week have brought the total infections to 492,378.

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