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Iran: Shrines, cultural sites to reopen; workers to return to work

President Hassan Rouhani says museums and historical sites are to reopen on Sunday to coincide with the Eid al-Fitr celebrations that end the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Holy shrines will reopen Monday, Rouhani told a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus in Tehran on Saturday, as the country eases restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Rouhani had said last week that the shrines would open for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. 

Some areas of the shrines such as narrow corridors will still stay shut.

Meanwhile, all workers in the country will return to work next Saturday. “We can say we have passed the three stages regarding the coronavirus,” Rouhani said.

The first stage was announcing the disease and mobilizing the country’s capacities to rein in the outbreak. The second phase involved controlling the disease through social distancing measures and the third required smart distancing accompanied by gradual re-opening of the country, he explained.

“Of course, there are still places that need work in the third phase. Now, it is the fourth stage, namely the coronavirus containment phase, for managing and countering the coronavirus,” Rouhani said.

The virus containment phase has already begun in 10 out of the country’s 31 provinces where the situation is better and screening will intensify while infected patients will be separated from the rest of the population, he added.

Rouhani also said Iran’s medical centers are witnessing a unique trend where the mortality rate is declining compared to the number of infections and hospital stays are becoming shorter. 

According to the president, 88 percent of the COVID-19 patients who have died suffered from one or more underlying diseases.

Iran has been among the countries hit hard by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.

Illegal US sanctions have hampered the virus battle in Iran, which reported its first COVID-19 infection cases in late February. 

No coronavirus deaths in 14 provinces 

According to the Health Ministry on Saturday, 1,869 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours, pushing the overall tally to 133,521. 

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also reported 59 new deaths from the respiratory disease, bringing the total toll to 7,359. 

Over the period, no fatality was reported in 14 provinces, while six other provinces registered only one death each.

The oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan remained at “red”, the top level of Iran’s color-coded risk scale, Jahanpour said.

So far, 104,072 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital, he added.

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