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Iran to make masks compulsory from next week

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that mask-wearing will be mandatory in certain areas as of next week and gave virus-hit provinces the green light to reimpose restrictive measures.

The Islamic republic has refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease, and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas.

Mask-wearing would be “obligatory in covered spaces where there are gatherings”, Rouhani said during a televised meeting of the country’s anti-virus taskforce.

 

The measure would come into force as of next week, continue until July 22 and would be extended if necessary, he said.

Rouhani said the health ministry had devised “a clear list” of the types of spaces and gatherings deemed high-risk, but he did not elaborate.

He also did not say what the penalty would be for those who fail to observe the measure.

According to deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi, “services will not be given” to those without masks in areas such as “government organisations and shopping malls”.

Iran reported its first COVID-19 cases on February 19 and it has since struggled to contain the outbreak as the death toll has crossed 10,000 and the number of infected reached more than 220,000.

Official figures have shown a rising trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections.

The increasing caseload has seen some previously unscathed provinces classified as “red” — the highest level on Iran’s colour-coded risk scale — with authorities allowing them to reimpose restrictive measures if required.

According to Rouhani, the measure would be also extended to provinces with “red” counties.

“Any county that is red, its provincial (virus) committee can propose reimposing limitations for a week,” which could be extended if needed, he said.

The health ministry launched an “#I wear a mask” campaign on Saturday and pleaded with Iranians to observe guidelines aimed at curbing infections.

One Iranian is infected with COVID-19 every 33 seconds and one dies from the disease every 13 minutes, Harirchi said on Saturday.

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WORLD NEWS

U.S air-force jet crashes in New Mexico

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US Air Force F-16C Viper, assigned to the 49th Wing, crashed on Monday when conducting a landing at Holloman Air Force Base.

According to the statement made by base officials, the incident took place at around 6 p.m. local time.

This marks the fifth jet crash since May, and the second time an F-16 has crashed in the past two weeks.

The Air Force said that the pilot ejected successfully and is currently being treated for minor injuries. Emergency services were confirmed to be operating on the scene.

Meanwhile, an investigation of the incident is ongoing.

​Earlier in June, an F-16 pilot was killed when his plane crashed during a “routine training mission” in South Carolina.

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Ivory Coast vice president resigns, days after PM’s death

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Ivory Coast’s Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan has resigned, President Alassane Ouattara’s office said on Monday.

Patrick Achi, the secretary-general of the presidency, told newsmen that Kablan Duncan, who previously served as Ouattara’s prime minister, was leaving for personal reasons.

His resignation came days after the sudden death last week of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was also the ruling party’s candidate for October’s presidential election.

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Russia completes clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine

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Sechenov University in Moscow said it has completed clinical trials using human volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine, Russian news agency TASS reports.

According to Sechenov University Center for Clinical Research on Medications head and chief researcher Elena Smolyarchuk, study data showed the vaccine candidate’s effectiveness.

“The research has been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe. The volunteers will be discharged on 15 July and 20 July,” Smolyarchuk was quoted by the news agency.

Having spent 28 days in isolation, the 38 paid trial candidates will be placed under observation for six months after being discharged.

Last month, Russia granted authorisation for clinical trials of two formulations of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology.

An intramuscular solution of the vaccine was tested at the Burdenko Military Hospital while Sechenov University assessed the vaccine in the form a powder for the preparation of an intramuscular solution.

The first stage of testing at the university commenced on 18 June in a group of 18 participants. The second group of the study involved 20 volunteers who were vaccinated on 23 June.

Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology director Vadim Tarasov also told Russian news agency Sputnik that Sechenov University in a pandemic situation acted not only as an educational institution but also as a scientific and technological research center that is able to participate in the creation of such important and complex products as drugs.

“We worked with this vaccine, starting with preclinical studies and protocol development, and clinical trials are currently underway,” Tarasov stated.

Prior to the human trials, the vaccine was tested for its toxicity, safety, immunogenicity and effectiveness in large and small animals at the Russian Defence Ministry’s 48th Central research institute.

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