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EghtesadOnline: A senior Health Ministry official has called for the continued closure of schools and universities in the first semester of the new academic year, as well as a ban on all forms of gatherings in preparation for the influenza season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The resurgence of influenza in autumn will further increase coronavirus cases,” Reza Malekzadeh, deputy for research and technology at the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying by ISNA.

“By holding gatherings and reopening universities and schools, the speed of coronavirus spread will accelerate,” he added.

Responding to a reporter’s question on whether gatherings in open spaces can cause transmission, the deputy health minister said, “Although the spread of the virus is much higher indoors, even in open spaces, gatherings can raise the risk of transmission.”

In a few days, Iran will hold religious rituals commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which will mostly be held in open spaces.

Malekzadeh called for online mourning events to mark the sad occasion and cautioned against participating in such ceremonies by saying, “You will put yourself and your family at risk.”

Iran recorded 2,247 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus within a 24-hour period, more than half of whom were hospitalized on Monday, Sima Sadat Lari, the spokeswoman of Health Ministry, was quoted as saying by ISNA.

“The newly confirmed cases took the nationwide total to 345,450. Death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose to 19,804, up by 165 overnight fatalities,” she added.

“To reduce the chances of virus transmission, Iran has more than doubled the area of testing centers designated for national university entrance exam, in which over one million students are expected to compete,” Ebrahim Khodaei, the head of National Organization for Educational Testing, said.



Penalties for Covid-19 Violations 

Details of the fines that are to be imposed on violators of coronavirus-related health regulations were outlined on Monday, according to which government and non-government offices are to withhold services to visitors who have not worn facemasks or refuse to observe social distancing rules.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said the National Coronavirus Headquarters has approved the stringent measure in its Saturday session, ISNA reported.

“Ministries have been authorized to penalize violations by employees and managers,” he added.

First-time violators are let off with a warning, but further non-adherence to safety guidelines can lead to wage cuts and temporary dismissals.

The government is also prepared to shut down business places that do not observe protocols, especially devised by the Health Ministry for that particular sector.

According to Harirchi, health regulations are least observed in bakeries and malls, with 15% and 14% of adherence rates, respectively.

At least 155 countries across the world have mandated facemasks in public spaces, he added.

The Health Ministry’s spokeswoman said over 299,000 have so far recovered from the infectious disease and 3,773 are in critical condition, adding that 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces are still on red alert or in an alarming state.

Some 21.85 million have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since December, and 774,000 have died.


Closure Schools Universities coronavirus