Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
TEHERAN－Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged citizens to continue to follow measures to fight COVID-19, as the country began gradually reopening government offices and business after a brief nationwide lockdown.
Government offices outside Teheran reopened on Saturday with a third of all employees working from home, state media reported.
Low-risk businesses－including many shops, factories and workshops－resumed operations across the country, with the exception of the capital Teheran, where they will reopen from Saturday.
But Rouhani said easing restrictions "does not mean ignoring health protocols" and people should "respect seriously" the social distancing and other health protocols.
Iran reported on Sunday another 117 deaths, taking the overall toll to 4,474. The total confirmed case rose to 71,686.
Meanwhile, Israel approved a tight quarantine of several areas of Jerusalem on Sunday in a bid to slow the spread of the virus in the city's most susceptible neighborhoods.
Residents of such areas would not be permitted to leave their neighborhoods for provisioning, and could only move to other areas for essential work and medical care.
Israel has documented over 10,000 cases and over 100 deaths.
In Gaza, authorities on Saturday said that 1,000 new quarantine units for patients and suspected cases are ready to be put into use. So far, there are 13 cases in the Gaza Strip.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman extended a nationwide curfew until further notice, the interior ministry said on Sunday, after the kingdom saw cases increase to 4,033.
Kuwait reported on Sunday 80 new cases, bringing the total number to 1,234, health authorities said.
India has sent 15 doctors and health professionals to Kuwait to help fight the pandemic.
The chief minister of Delhi state said on Saturday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to extend a nationwide lockdown.
But the federal government said only that it was still considering states' requests and that they mostly wanted a two-week extension to the 21-day lockdown, which is due to end on Tuesday.
Three states announced on Saturday the extension of their lockdown until April 30, following two other states' decision. The virus has infected 8,356 and killed 273 in India.
Stay home message
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday sent a "stay home" message by example by posting a video clip of him sitting at home, which prompted an angry public response, which said that the message ignored the plight of those who were struggling to make a living amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Separately, the Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine issued a joint statement warning about a "collapse of emergency medicine". The number of novel coronavirus infections in Japan has now exceeded 7,000.
The death toll from COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa rose to 25 and a total of 2,028 cases were reported as of Saturday, the health ministry said, adding that 75,053 tests had been conducted across the country so far.
The pandemic has also hit the South African National Defence Force, which has reported 184 suspected cases and three positive cases.
Separately, Sudan said that it urgently needed $120 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the country's health minister Akram Ali Altom said on Saturday.
There are 19 confirmed cases, including two deaths, in Sudan.