Iran to tighten COVID-19 restrictions next Saturday - Rouhani

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FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Yerevan
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Yerevan

(Reuters) - Iran will impose stricter restrictions from next Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani said on state television, as the Middle East country hardest hit by the virus battles a third wave of COVID-19.

The toughest measures - classified by health officials as "red" or level 3 - will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 100 other towns and cities.

Non-essential businesses and services will be shut and cars will not be allowed to leave or enter, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in a televised media briefing.

Iranian health officials have devised a colour-coding system that denotes the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

"The goal is not to shut down people's businesses, but we have to set limits," Raisi said.

Some 150 towns and cities are rated "orange" or level 2, he said.

In these, one-third of employees can go to work whereas in 155 towns where the rating is "yellow" or level 1 two-thirds of the workforce can work from their workplaces.

"Shutdowns are not limited to jobs, but also include universities, schools and training centres," Rouhani said. "In the red and orange cities, training will take place remotely."

Iran reported 452 COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours to tale its total to 41,034, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Saturday, while its total cases rose by 11,203 to 749,525.

Senior ministry official Iraj Harirchi warned the number of infected and fatalities will double in the coming two weeks.

The government on Tuesday imposed restrictions for one month in major cities requiring all non-essential businesses to close at 6 p.m.

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com)