Schools and mosques closed in Tehran as COVID-19 infections rise

Schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran were closed for a week on Saturday as part of measures to stem a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 October 2020

Schools and mosques closed in Tehran as COVID-19 infections rise

  • Zali warned that if the spread of the epidemic continues at the current rate in Tehran, there would be a three- to five-fold increase in cases
  • The lockdown which also applies to all social and cultural ceremonies and conferences will run to Friday Oct. 9

TEHRAN: Schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran were closed for a week on Saturday as part of measures to stem a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, state media cited authorities in the Iranian capital as saying.
The closure plan, which will also affect universities, seminaries, libraries, museums, theaters, gyms, cafes and hair salons in the Iranian capital, came after Alireza Zali, head of the Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce, called for the shutdown to help control the epidemic.
Zali warned in an interview on state television that if the spread of the epidemic continues at the current rate in Tehran, there would be a three- to five-fold increase in cases and a rise in the fatality rate to between 1.5% and 3%.
The lockdown which also applies to all social and cultural ceremonies and conferences will run to Friday Oct. 9.
Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 179 on Saturday to 26,746, and identified cases by 3,523 to 468,119, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said anyone concealing a COVID-19 infection should face a severe penalty.
“Anyone who feels ill and it’s clear to them that they are ill, must not hide their illness,” Rouhani said in televised remarks. Otherwise, he added, they will be committing “the highest offense” that will demand “the highest punishment”.
Those not wearing a mask in public will be fined, said Rouhani, adding the amount of fines and other penalties will be determined at the next meeting of the government-run Coronavirus Taskforce.
Government employees who fail to observe regulations face measures ranging from warnings to their one-year suspension from their posts. And government offices where people go for services cannot serve people who do not observe health protocols, such as wearing masks.
Businesses that flout regulations could face closure.
Rouhani said penalties would be most severe in Tehran, where in recent weeks the daily death toll from the coronavirus has been more than 100 compared with less than 10 at the end of the first wave of the virus earlier this year, according to Zali.
Iran has registered more than 3,500 new cases in each of the past six days, with a record 3,825 cases announced on Thursday, official statistics showed.


Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Updated 11 min 13 sec ago

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

  • Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic
  • The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14

TUNIS: Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tunisian cities on Saturday to protest police repression, corruption and poverty, following several nights of unrest marked by clashes and arrests.
Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the economy and threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
Over 6,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Tunisia, with a record 103 deaths reported on Thursday.
The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14.
But protesters took to the streets in several parts of the country, including the capital Tunis and the marginalized interior region of Gafsa, to demand the release of hundreds of young people detained during several nights of unrest since January 14.
“Neither police nor Islamists, the people want revolution,” chanted demonstrators in a crowd of several hundred in Tunis, where one person was wounded in brief clashes amid a heavy police presence.
Protests were also held in the coastal city of Sfax on Friday.
Much of the unrest has been in working class neighborhoods, where anger is boiling over soaring unemployment and a political class accused of having failed to deliver good governance, a decade after the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Economic misery exacerbated by novel coronavirus restrictions in the tourism-reliant nation have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to try to leave the country.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said Omar Jawadi, 33, a hotel sales manager, who has been paid only half his salary for months.
“The politicians are corrupt, we want to change the government and the system.”
The police have said more than 700 people were arrested over several nights of unrest earlier this week that saw young people hurl rocks and petrol bombs at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Human rights groups on Thursday said at least 1,000 people had been detained.
“Youth live from day to day, we no longer have hope, neither to work nor to study — and they call us troublemakers!” said call center worker Amine, who has a degree in aerospace engineering.
“We must listen to young people, not send police in by the thousands. The whole system is corrupt, a few families and their supporters control Tunisia’s wealth.”
Tunisia last week marked one decade since Ben Ali fled the country amid mass protests, ending 23 years in power.
Tunisia’s political leadership is divided, with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi waiting for parliament to confirm a major cabinet reshuffle announced last Saturday.