Iran says cannot shut down economy despite worsening virus outbreak Jul 12, 2020 0 261 12345 AFPTehranIran said on Saturday that it cannot afford to shut down its sanctions-hit economy, even as the country’s novel coronavirus outbreak worsens with record-high death tolls and rising infections.Iran must continue “economic, social and cultural activities while observing health protocols”, President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised virus taskforce meeting. “The simplest solution is to close down all activities, (but) the next day, people would come out to protest the (resulting) chaos, hunger, hardship and pressure,” he added.The Islamic republic has been struggling since late February to contain the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, the deadliest in the Middle East.Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari reported Saturday that 188 people had died from the respiratory disease in the past 24 hours, raising the overall toll to 12,635.Iran’s daily COVID-19 death toll has topped 100 since around mid-June, with a record single-day tally of 221 reported on Thursday. Lari also raised the country’s caseload to 255,117, with 2,397 new infections recorded.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 closed schools, cancelled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but Rouhani’s government progressively lifted restrictions from April to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn after US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.The International Monetary Fund predicts Iran’s economy will shrink by six percent this year.“It is not possible to keep businesses and economic activities shut down in the long-term,” Rouhani said, emphasising that “the people will not accept this”.Health Minister Said Namaki warned on Wednesday of a potential “revolt over poverty” and blamed US sanctions for the government’s “empty coffers”.The reopening of the economy “was not over our ignorance (of the virus’ dangers), but it was due to us being on our knees against an economy that could take no more”, Namaki said on state television.US sanctions targeted vital oil sales and banking relations, among other sectors, forcing Iran to rely on non-oil exports, which have dropped as borders were closed to stem the spread of the virus. Pages 123 RELATED ARTICLES Iraq PM vows to fight customs corruption at border with Iran Jul 12, 2020 0 325 Erdogan rebuffs criticism over Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque Jul 12, 2020 0 266 Mali PM vows to quickly form an ‘open’ government Jul 12, 2020 0 812 Hospitals in north-west Syria only treating emergencies due to virus DPA Damascus Hospitals in the rebel-controlled stronghold of Idlib in north-western Syria have limited their work to emergency cases after the first infection of the novel coronavirus was recorded in the region, a .. New Tunisia protests over unemployment AFP Tunis Hundreds of Tunisians demonstrated in the south of the country on Saturday against unemployment and the death of a young man they say was killed by soldiers earlier this week. Protesters in the town of Remada .. Two dead, eight rescued in Lagos building collapse Lagos A two-storey residential building under renovation collapsed overnight in Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos, killing two and injuring eight, the emergency services said on Saturday. Building collapses are .. Burkina Faso ruling party backs President Kabore for re-election Ouagadougou Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Saturday won his party’s backing to run for a second term, despite struggling to crush a bloody jihadist insurgency. Simon Compaore, president of the .. Egypt grounds kites for ‘safety’, ‘national security’ AFP Cairo Egyptian police have seized kites from people flying them after a ban by a northern governorate for “safety” reasons and a lawmaker’s warning they posed a “national security threat”. Police seized 369 kites in ..