Officials ring alarm bell as people flout virus guidelines

Financial Tribune – Public compliance with safety guidelines issued to minimize the spread of coronavirus has dropped by 55%, a health official said, raising deep concerns over the nationwide reopenings.

Compliance with social distancing rules among businesses and the general public has dwindled from a high of 77.57% to 22.66% in a span of 20 days, ISNA quoted Mohsen Farhadi, an official with the Health Ministry, as saying on Wednesday.

Farhadi said, “More than 250,000 business establishments have been closed down due to non-compliance with protocols devised by the Health Ministry.”

The results are consistent with a Health Ministry survey conducted earlier this month, which found that fear of Covid-19 has declined from 70% to 34% and belief in stay-home policy is down 54% in recent weeks.

According to Farhadi, adherence to health protocols in the capital Tehran has sharply dropped to 10.54% from 56% in less than a month. He described the lack of respect for health guidelines in Tehran as “disappointing”.

The deadly virus has so far infected nearly 178,000 in Iran and claimed the lives of 8,500.

In his weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said the government will go ahead with the step-by-step reopening and called for public vigilance and lifestyle changes.

Farhadi outlined the coronavirus taskforce’s approach to the pandemic, saying that the committee wants economic activities to resume while observing social distancing.

Stressing that restaurants and wedding halls are the top two violators of those rules, Farhadi said, “We are forced to take legal action against those who defy the restrictive measures.”

Kindergartens, cinema halls and tour travels have been scheduled to resume operations in the coming days.

Public Transport

Governor General of Tehran Province Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpey said on Wednesday that wearing facemasks and social distancing measures are not being respected in public means of transportation.

“Our expectations have not been met,” Bandpey added.

The city official also said that the ban on personal car use in central Tehran is being reviewed by the coronavirus taskforce and the Health Ministry.

To curb virus transmission in public transport, car owners were authorized to enter Tehran’s restricted traffic zone but the permit was canceled this week.

Farhadi stressed the need for increasing Tehran’s means of public transport.

“Even if we wear facemasks, it will be useless if the subway or the bus is packed,” Farhadi added.

The health official pointed out that buses, airplanes and cinema halls should operate with half their normal capacity.

Data compiled by the Health Ministry shows 2,000 more became infected on Wednesday and 81 died.

Roughly 140,000 have either left hospitals or recovered. Over 1.15 million diagnostic tests have been carried out so far to identify patients.

Worldwide infections reached 7.35 million on Wednesday and the death toll rose to 414,000.