Iran will impose tougher restrictions nationwide from Saturday as the Middle East country hardest hit by the novel coronavirus battles a third wave of infections.

The toughest measures, under which non-essential businesses and services are to close, will be imposed in the capital Tehran and about 160 other high risk “red” cities and towns, state media said on Friday.

Cars will not be allowed to leave or enter the “red” cities and other driving restrictions will be imposed in an effort to encourage people to stay home.

Lighter restrictions will apply to lower risk “orange” and “yellow” areas. The restrictions are to last at least two weeks, state media said.

Iran reported a near-record 479 COVID-19 deaths over the past 24 hours to take its total to 43 896, a Health Ministry spokesperson told state TV on Friday, while its total cases rose by 13 260 to 828 377.

Meanwhile, Reza Malekzadeh, a deputy health minister in charge of research, turned in his resignation over differences with Health Minister Saeed Namaki, state media reported.

“A flawed management … and your lack of consultation with experts and researchers and heeding their recommendations and warnings has caused many human casualties,” Malekzadeh said in his resignation letter, according to the state broadcaster IRIB.