Iran delays elections as it struggles to cope with coronavirus outbreak

Tehran, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Iranian authorities on Sunday postponed the second round of legislative elections in the country, the third worst-hit by the coronavirus in the world.

The government also said there were plans to apply movement restrictions in the country, which has seen 724 deaths from Covid-19.

The ministry of health reported another 1,209 infections in the past day and 113 fatalities.

There have been a total of 13,938 confirmed cases in Iran of which 4,790 have recovered, making it one of the worst hotspots for the pandemic behind only China and Italy.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for Iran’s Guardian Council, announced that the second round of parliamentary elections, which were scheduled to take place on 17 April will be postponed until 11 September.

Iranian President Hasan Rohani gave his initial approval to impose a partial blockade on movement between cities in at least 11 provinces.

Alireza Zali, head of the coronavirus control operations headquarters in Tehran, said the capital city was preparing to implement a new phase in the campaign to contain the outbreak in the coming days.

He added the municipality had plans to restrict all vehicles at Tehran’s entry and exit points.

Zali also warned that a large part of hospital capacity has been used up dealing with the disease and that if the situation continues it will not be able to keep up with demand.

Abdolrahim Mousavi, commander-in-chief of the Iranian army, said 300 medical centres will be opened to treat coronavirus patients and ease the strain on health services.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard reported that it has already opened three field hospitals in the north and south of the country.

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei has called on the armed forces and created a commission to manage the efforts against the outbreak, which he previously said could be a “biological attack”.

The army began military biological defence exercises on Sunday, including the establishment of inspection posts at the entrances of provincial capitals, the disinfection of public spaces and the creation of diagnostic centres and field hospitals.

The new coronavirus originated in Wuhan, the capital city of the central Chinese province of Hubei, in December, and has since spread around the world.

It has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, with more than 132,000 global cases in 123 countries and territories and deaths exceeding 5,000. EFE-EPA


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