Coronavirus live news: Melbourne outbreak has 'explosive potential'; Iran makes masks compulsory

By Martin Belam (now) and Rebecca Ratcliffe (earlier)

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Compulsory face masks in public spaces introduced in Iran

Compulsory face masks in public spaces have been introduced in Iran after the government admitted its efforts to introduce effective voluntary social distancing have failed, and that the death rate due to coronavirus is now spiralling up to record levels.

The latest figures published by the Iranian health ministry on Sunday showed a record 163 had died in the past 24 hours, higher than any daily figure in the initial March outbreak. The total number of deaths had reached 11,571. The number of new infections was 2,560 short of the daily records set at the beginning of June, but in line with the figures for the past fortnight. In fresh tests, 5 MPs have tested positive, and a number of top footballers.

The government said the number of provinces declared as red has reached 9, with a further 9 including Tehran declared amber. The level of restrictions in a province, including closure of restaurants and cafes, is dependent on the province’s classification.

The country appears to be paying the price for lifting restrictions on April 11, right after Persian New Year holidays when people went back to work.

President Hassan Rouhani said, “Anybody who doesn’t wear a mask should be refused services and if a government employee doesn’t wear one, he/she should be marked as absent”. Similarly anyone not wearing a mask will be prevented from using public transport.

The government urged the public to ring a hotline if they saw breaches in the guidelines or non-compliance with social distancing rules.

Dr. Masoud Mardani, an infectious disease specialist and a member of the Iranian National Task Force told an Iranian news agency on Saturday “Based on serological tests done across the country, we estimated about 18 million Iranians have contracted the virus, which is about 20% of total population.”

Based on ministry of health data, the current death rate in the country is 5.4%. Iranian government critics say if this rate is applied to the 18 million cases, that would lead to a figure of 972,000 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, which is 85 times more than the “official” number.

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Afghanistan reports 38 new Covid-19 deaths and 279 new cases

The number of confirmed deaths from Covid-19 has risen by 38 to 864 in Afghanistan, while the health ministry detected 279 new cases on Sunday as Kabul recorded its lowest daily infections in around two months.The number of confirmed infections stands at 32,951, with 19,366 recoveries. The country’s health ministry, which has admitted that it has a lack of testing capacity, has tested 75,747 suspected patients since the outbreak began.The capital, Kabul, which has been the country’s worst affected area with 235 deaths, recorded its lowest daily infections in two months, as 24 patients tested positive. Ten patients died from the virus overnight in Kabul.Five patients died in the remote province of Khost as 43 from 50 tests came back positive in the last 24 hours. Testing capacity remains low in Afghanistan and experts warn that the actual number of infections is much higher.Most new cases (80) were confirmed in the central province of Bamiyan. The western province of Herat has recorded 10 new deaths from the virus overnight.Afghanistan reported the death of the first high profile official from the virus on Friday after Yosuf Ghazanfar, President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, died from the virus.

Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2)

We did prayers for the departed soul of @YosufGhazanfar, the most senior serving govt official who lost his life to Covid-19. He was a friend, a colleague & an election companion of us. We cherish his memories & appeal to almighty to give strength to his family. RIP my friend. https://t.co/BROVKXJcnz

July 5, 2020

The health ministry has said that the country has reached the peak of coronavirus as daily infections are dropping in recent days while the ministry tests fewer patients. The ministry has on multiple occasions said it has the capacity of 2,000 tests a day, but has never reached the numbers.

“According to our statistics, we are now at the peak of the pandemic as the daily infections have been around the same number in the last two weeks, and the number of suspected patients decreased, so we hope daily numbers will drop soon,” said Abdulqadeer Qadeeri, deputy health minister.

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