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EghtesadOnline: In an open letter to Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki, the head of Tehran’s Coronavirus Taskforce called for helping half of government employees in the capital Tehran pursue teleworking amid rising coronavirus infections and deaths.

Alireza Zali added that restricting the physical presence of employees to two-thirds of full capacity has visible and positive effects on traffic and on the public transport system, requesting him to extend the remote working order to 50% of the workforce, ISNA reported.

Resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in Iran has dealt a heavy blow, especially to the northern province of Tehran, home to the country’s overcrowded capital, prompting local officials to plead for lockdown measures.

President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday announced that commemoration ceremonies marking the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH) will be held across Iran while observing safety guidelines and regardless of a region’s Covid-19 transmission rate.

Less than a month away from the start of the lunar month of Muharram, Rouhani stressed that the observance of health protocols would allow safe participation in the annual mourning processions for the third Shia Imam and grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), President.ir reported.

“Mourning ceremonies for Imam Hussein [PBUH] must be held everywhere, in cities, villages, ‘red’ zones and ‘white’ zones alike,” the president stressed.

According to a government classification, colors “red”, “yellow” and “white” indicate the R value, or the number of people a patient can pass the disease to, in a respective county.

Although coronavirus-related protocols for the two mourning months of Muharram and Safar have not been announced by the Health Ministry as yet, Rouhani hinted that limiting commemoration days and the use of open spaces could be part of the preventive measures.

Rouhani had earlier called mourning for Imam Hussein (PBUH) “an absolute necessity” and “an undeniable spiritual need”.

“No one can create a gap between science and religion; we will both heed science and obey religion,” he asserted. 

“We want to mourn but not infect mourners of Imam Hussein [PBUH]. This is what the public, religion and Imam Hussein [PBUH] want from us.”

“After four straight days, Iran’s overnight deaths fell below 200 once again, as 195 fatalities took the nation’s total to 15,484,” Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Some 2,316 were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Saturday, taking the case tally to 288,839.

The spokeswoman for the Health Ministry noted that 13 of Iran’s 31 provinces are facing an alarming state due to rising cases and deaths, warning that non-compliance with social distancing rules and other health protocols could lead to soaring numbers over the coming weeks.

Lari also asked people to refrain from traveling to Kish Island, a tourist hotspot, pointing to “concerning” infection numbers.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi also advised against traveling, especially to holy cities and particularly Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city.

Over 251,000 have recovered from the infectious disease in the past five months and there are currently 3,670 severely-ill coronavirus patients in intensive care units, Lari said.

Iran has administered 2.3 million diagnostic tests to identify coronavirus infections within its borders. 

Global Covid-19 cases neared 16 million on Saturday and fatalities rose past 644,000.

Tehran Taskforce Workforce Saeed Namaki coronavirus