Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, warned citizens Saturday to prepare to live with the novel coronavirus “for a long time”, as the country gradually rolls back restrictions imposed to curb the outbreak.
People should not assume that “this disease will be eliminated in 15 days or a month: we must therefore follow the instructions for a long time,” Rouhani said during the weekly meeting of the coronavirus taskforce broadcast on state TV.
“We must end all gatherings, be it marriage, mourning, or family visits, until told otherwise by the health minister,” he added.
Iran has been battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of the novel coronavirus since reporting its first cases in February.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the country’s total number of cases had risen to 169,425 with 2,269 new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours.
He added that 75 people who were infected died in the same period, bringing the overall fatalities to 8,209.
There has been some scepticism at home and abroad about Iran’s official figures, with concerns the real toll could be much higher.
Authorities have progressively lifted restrictions imposed to tackle the virus, and activity has almost returned to normal in most of the country’s 31 provinces.
The rising trajectory of infection figures since a low in early May and the lack of observance of social distancing measures have authorities worried.
According to Rouhani, there is no “second path” for Iran and economic activity across the country must continue.
He announced a further relaxation of restrictions with travel agencies set to resume local tours as of June 13, and cinemas and concerts reopening with only half of venue capacity from June 21.