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Iran Tightens Restrictions Amid Sharp Rise In COVID-19 Cases, Deaths

An Iranian woman who lost her husband to COVID-19 holds flowers at her husband's grave at a cemetery in southern Tehran on November 17.

The Iranian government is to impose tougher restrictions nationwide from November 21 as the country hardest hit in the Middle East by the coronavirus battles a new wave of infections.

Nonessential businesses and services are to close in the capital, Tehran, and in about 160 other high-risk "red" cities and towns, the national coronavirus crisis response center said on November 20.

Driving restrictions aimed at encouraging people to stay home mean that cars will not be allowed to leave or enter "red" areas.

Lighter restrictions will be imposed in lower-risk "orange" and "yellow" areas.

The measures are to last at least two weeks.

The Health Ministry said on November 20 that the country reported 479 deaths caused by COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the total death toll to 43,896.

The number of coronavirus cases rose by 13,260 to 828,377, the ministry said.

With reporting by Reuters