A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on April 29, 2020, shows President Hassan Rouhani chairing a cabinet session in the capital Tehran. (Photo: AFP)
Iran reopened for business despite its persistent coronavirus outbreak as there was no end in sight to the crisis, its president said Wednesday, as 80 new deaths were announced.
"Due to uncertainty about when this virus will end, we are preparing for work, activity and science," said President Hassan 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 Shiite holy city of Qom -- on February 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.