Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for “decisive governance action” and stricter penalties for those flouting public health rules one day after Iran registered a new record daily number of COVID-19 infections.
In a rare face-to-face meeting with members of the national coronavirus task force on Saturday, Khamenei said Iran needed to persuade public opinion so people and different organisations can work together to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Since security and economic aspects also arise from this illness, the health of the people should be the priority in making decisions,” he said, according to the supreme leader’s Farsi website.
The meeting was held a day after Iran’s highest single-day infection rate of 6,134 was recorded.
The number of daily infections has almost doubled in the past month as Iran battles a third wave of the deadly virus.
As health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced on Saturday, 335 more people died of the coronavirus in Iran in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 32,320.
She said 5,814 more infections were recorded, taking the total tally to 562,705 since the first case was reported in Iran in February.
During his speech, Khamenei ordered the immediate formation of an “operational headquarters” for the national coronavirus task force to monitor implementation of guidelines.
Khamenei also called for “approving strict charges for people who commit major violations of health protocols”.
On Friday, the government imposed new restrictions for the capital, Tehran, as well as across the country in response to the increase in the number of deaths, infections and hospitalisations.
From Monday, all state organisations in Tehran are obligated to operate with 50 percent workforce at the premises.
They have also been ordered to allow government workers to come in every alternate day for almost a month.
According to the health ministry, 43 high-risk counties across Iran have been ordered to shut down all non-essential businesses from Monday for at least a week.
The shutdowns could be extended, the state body said.
From Iran’s 32 provinces, all but five are classified as red in a colour-coded scale denoting the severity of outbreaks.
Wearing masks is mandatory in Tehran and a partial shutdown of businesses and sports was enforced two weeks ago.
Earlier this month, President Hassan Rouhani also introduced new fines for citizens who flout health guidelines in the capital and endanger others.
Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi on Saturday said: “There are no plans to [completely] shutdown Tehran,” but added police officers will act more decisively in imposing fines against violators.