Iran health ministry reports slowing of virus infections

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian people wearing protective face masks, walk next to closed shops, as government imposed a full lockdown, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tehran

(Reuters) - Iran's Health Ministry on Saturday reported a slowdown in coronavirus infections, saying that 89 of 160 cities were out of the designated high risk category.

"I thank our dear people for taking the appropriate precautions and tolerating the restrictions," deputy health minister Alireza Raisi said on state TV, adding that public adherence was 90 percent.

Still, the government on Saturday announced the closure of most non-essential government offices in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

A health ministry spokeswoman reported 13,402 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, pushing the national tally to 935,799 in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that the death toll had risen by 391 in the past 24 hours to 7,486.

President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks that he had instructed Iran’s Central Bank to provide the funds needed to import coronavirus vaccines.

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com Editing by Kirsten Donovan)