Iran to require face masks in capital as virus cases hit high


Dubai (Reuters) – Iran will require face masks in public in the capital Tehran from Saturday, authorities said on Tuesday, announcing a daily record of 4,151 new coronavirus cases as hospitals face shortages of beds during a third wave of infections.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said the capital was facing a more severe crisis than other parts of the country. There were 4,793 coronavirus patients in hospitals in Tehran, 948 of them in intensive care, and 311 patients waiting in emergency rooms, he said, according to state news agency IRNA.

Masks have already been compulsory in public indoors since July, and will now be mandatory outdoors in the capital as well. State media reports say many people have flouted the regulation.

Iran has recorded 479,825 cases of the coronavirus, making it the worst-hit country in the Middle East. It was one of the first countries outside of East Asia to be hit hard by the pandemic early this year, saw another surge in the months that followed, and is now experiencing a third wave, having set daily records two days in a row.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state television that 227 patients had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 27,419.

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