6m Iranians might lose jobs due to coronavirus pandemic, as Iran reopens for business

A taxi driver cleans his car while waiting for passengers at Aryashahr station, west Teheran on April 26, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (BLOOMBERG, AFP, REUTERS) - As many as 6.43 million Iranians, or nearly 25 per cent of the workforce, could lose their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a study by the country's Parliament Research Centre.

A minimum of 2.87 million jobs will be lost, the study finds, citing latest official figures.

Non-oil dollar exports fell by nearly 30 per cent in the four-week period beginning Feb 20 from a year ago, and exports fell by an annual 7 per cent in the year ended March 19.

The report projects the sanctions-hit economy will shrink between 7.5 per cent and 11 per cent due to the virus, which has infected more than 93,000 people and killed over 5,000 in Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday (April 29) said Iran has reopened for business despite its persistent coronavirus outbreak as there was no end in sight to the crisis.

"Due to uncertainty about when this virus will end, we are preparing for work, activity and science," said Mr Rouhani.

"We have to follow all the medical instructions, but work and production are as essential as these precautions," he told a televised Cabinet meeting.

His remarks came as the health ministry announced that 80 new deaths from the novel coronavirus had taken the country's overall toll to 5,957.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said another 1,073 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours.

All but 20,000 of the 93,657 people who contracted the illness since mid-February have been discharged from hospital, he told a televised news conference.

Iran has struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak since reporting its first cases - two deaths in the Shi'ite holy city of Qom - on Feb 19.

The actual numbers of those killed and sickened by the virus are widely thought to be much higher than the Iranian government's official tolls.

Despite still battling the virus, the government has allowed many businesses to reopen since April 11 after shutting most down in mid-March to stem the spread of the disease.

Mosques remain closed even as the Islamic republic observes the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

But President Rouhani said on Sunday he plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the coronavirus outbreak. It is not clear when this would take place.

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