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Health

Iran's leader urges penalties for COVID offenders

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran, Iran, June 4, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Saturday for strict punishments for violators of COVID-19 restrictions as the Middle East’s hardest-hit nation battled a third wave.

Latest officials figures showed the coronavirus had killed 32,320 Iranians and infected 562,705, with 5,814 new cases and 335 fatalities in the previous 24 hours.

Taking a swipe at arch-foe the United States, Khamenei said Iran must enforce curbs better and end disputes between institutions over the pandemic.

“Some countries, such as the United States, have the worst kind of management ... Such behaviours and insults are the way of Americans who embarrass themselves in debates and press briefings in front of the world,” he said.

“But we must try to do our best because it has to do with people’s lives and health, their safety and economy.”

Khamenei, quoted by state TV and IRNA news agency at a coronavirus taskforce meeting, urged stricter controls of entry points, inter-city traffic and public spaces.

“Those who commit major violations of health regulations should be severely penalized,” he said.

New restrictions in the capital Tehran, including having state employees work every other day, begin on Monday, while other curbs will also apply to 43 other towns and cities.

dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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