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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s second round of parliamentary elections was held on Friday to fill the 10 empty seats of the legislature amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the country’s infections topped 397,000.

Voters cast ballot in 3,400 polling stations, located in 10 constituencies across 23 counties and eight provinces, the spokesman for the country’s Election Headquarters, Esmaeil Mousavi, was quoted as saying by ISNA.

The delayed second round was rescheduled from April to September to circumvent the peak of the first wave of coronavirus infections.

Voters were instructed to wear facemasks and carry their own pen. Polling stations were not allowed to take voters’ fingerprints in order to curb the chances of virus transmission. In previous elections, voters dipped a finger in the same ink used by others.

Friday’s elections had special significance for Iran. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli expressed satisfaction with the extent of adherence to health protocols, adding that, “If the Covid-19 pandemic persists, today’s event will be exhaustively examined for oversights, to prepare for the 2021 [presidential] election.”

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani stressed that the second round will be held as scheduled, noting that “the election process can provide us with the experience to hold more large-scale elections in the future”.

Jamal Orf, the head of the country’s Election Headquarters, pointed out that Iran will hold four elections over the course of next year.

“This election should be considered an exercise for holding elections in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said, adding that there is no “clear and precise” end in sight for the pandemic.

Any candidate, which receives a majority of votes in their constituency, will win the parliamentary seat, he said. 

During the first round, candidates had to secure one-fifth of the votes to be elected.

The 11th round of the parliamentary election was held on Feb. 21, but went on to the second round in 10 out of 208 constituencies.

The number of coronavirus diagnostic tests administered by Iran crossed the 3.5 million mark on Friday. Iran carried out over 20,000 tests on a daily basis.

Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman of the Health Ministry, said Iran has so far confirmed a total of 397,000 cases in the past seven months, up by 2,313 new patients.

Over half of the newly identified infections (54%) were admitted to hospitals.

Iran registered 115 overnight fatalities on Friday, Lari said, taking the national death toll to 22,913.

According to the health official, over 342,000 have so far recovered from the infectious disease and 3,753 are hospitalized in intensive care units.

Covid-19 cases around the globe rose past 28.3 million on Friday and fatalities reached 915,000.


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