Iran’s supreme leader Sunday called the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in the country “truly tragic” and urged all citizens to help stem what has been the region’s deadliest outbreak.
“Let everyone play their part in the best way to break the chain of transmission in the short term and save the country,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a video conference with lawmakers, according to his office.
Iran has been struggling to contain the outbreak since announcing its first cases in February and has reported more than 12,800 deaths since then.
Khamenei’s speech was his first to the new parliament which took office at the end of May, dominated by conservatives and ultraconservatives elected in February elections.
According to his official site, Khamenei praised healthcare workers for “their sacrifices”.
But he also strongly criticised “some people who do not even do something as simple as wearing a mask”, saying he felt “ashamed” of such behaviour.
Khamenei’s comments came as infections have again been on the rise in Iran since early May.
According to figures announced Sunday, 194 deaths from the COVID-19 disease and 2,186 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.
The health ministry announced a record 221 deaths in a single day on Thursday.
In total, 257,303 cases have been reported in the country, including 12,829 deaths, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said Sunday in a televised press conference.
The outbreak’s rising toll has prompted authorities to make wearing masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and to allow the hardest hit provinces to reimpose restrictive measures.
Iran had closed schools, cancelled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government progressively lifted restrictions from April to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.