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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Iran president decries reduced respect for coronavirus rules

Rouhani urged residents to adhere to social distancing measures [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 June, 2020

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Hassan Rouhani reproached citizens for not adhering to health measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday reproached citizens for their reduced adherence to health measures designed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"The respect of measures by our dear people has been great, up to 80 percent or more" of citizens played by the rules between April 20 and May 20, Rouhani said, citing a report.

But it was "disturbing" to see that this proportion "has greatly diminished... with only 18 to 20 percent of people respecting" the rules now, the president said in a live televised speech.

The health ministry on Saturday announced 71 deaths from the disease over the last 24 hours and 2,410 new infections.

Rouhani also expressed concerns about infection counter-measures at the holy shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi province and a main pilgrimage site in the country. 

"Officials must make greater efforts -- reports on mask wearing, social distancing and collective prayer are not satisfactory" at the shrine, Rouhani said, noting also concerns about the wider province. 

Since announcing its first cases in the Shiite holy city of Qom in February, Iran has struggled to contain what quickly became the Middle East's deadliest outbreak of the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

Official figures show the illness has killed 8,730 in the country, while 184,955 are confirmed to have been infected.

There has been scepticism at home and abroad about Iran's official figures, with concerns the real toll could be much higher.

Authorities initially imposed a series of measures aimed at halting the virus' spread, such as the closure of mosques, but has gradually rolled back many of these steps since April.

Imam Reza and other major shrines -- Fatima Masumeh in Qom and Shah Abdol-Azim in Tehran -- were shut in mid-March, before authorities re-opened them in late May.

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