Iranians should be cautious but not afraid of the coronavirus: Rouhani

(Reuters) - Iranians should be cautious but not afraid of the coronavirus, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday as the country eases restrictions in an attempt to return to normal life.

Iran is one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

“Excessive fear, excessive anxiety, excessive worrying is worse than this corona itself and this virus and can really break up people’s lives and take away people’s comfort,” Rouhani said, according to the official presidency website.

“But at the same time we shouldn’t be careless, meaning there must not be excessive anxiety and worrying and there must be necessary caution.”

Iranians have returned to shops, bazaars and parks over the past week as the country eases coronavirus restrictions, with the daily increase in the death toll below 100 since April 14.

The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 71 in the past 24 hours to 5,877, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV on Tuesday.

The total number of diagnosed cases of the new coronavirus in Iran has reached 92,584, he said.

Seeking a balance between protecting public health and shielding an economy already battered by sanctions, the government has refrained from imposing the kind of wholesale lockdowns on cities seen in many other countries.

Health officials have warned that the easing of restrictions could lead to a new wave of infections and state TV in recent days has featured interviews where people on the street are questioned why they are not using masks and gloves.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Graff