The Iranian president has warned that the lockout could lead to protests



Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that curbing the spread of the epidemic would lead to street protests over economic issues.


At a regular cabinet meeting on the coronavirus, Rouhani said the easiest way to fight the virus was to stop all activity. But “then people will protest and come because of chaos, famine, and problems,” he said.

Virus cases and deaths were lower in May after a massive lockdown was imposed in Iran. But since then, that number has risen again, officials say, adding that the combination of better testing and reopening has triggered a boom.

Rouhani asked that the ceremony be held with a limited number of participants. Many experts blame the increase in virus-related deaths at weddings and funerals last week.

Ali Raja Jolly, head of Tehran's Virus Task Force, banned the limited participation in meetings, festivals or demonstrations and wedding and funeral ceremonies in a letter to authorities.

Earlier this week, Iran reported 221 deaths in a 24-hour period, the highest in a single day.

Many experts, as Rouhani commented, called for a halt to business operations to prevent an increase in virus-related deaths, which accounted for more than 12,600 of the 255,117 confirmed cases.

Iranian officials, who are already disabled by the sanctions imposed after the Trump administration pulled out of the 2018 nuclear deal, have been particularly keen to lift sanctions on their economy.

The rise in subsidized gasoline prices led to four days of unrest in cities and towns across Iran in November, with more than 300 people killed in clashes with police and security forces, according to the rights group Amnesty International.

Although the government acknowledged that security forces shot dead protesters in June, Tehran has not yet released official figures on the level of unrest, with one legislator saying 230 people were killed in anti-government protests.

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