An Iranian woman narrowly escaped rape in the capital Tehran after pretending to be infected with the deadly coronavirus disease.
The unidentified woman said she left isolation at home to purchase essentials from a shop and got into a stranger’s car after failing to find a taxi.
“I was tired of the long wait so I took the ride,” she told local newspaper Iran on Saturday.
“The driver soon changed his course but he said the original route was closed, so I believed him,” she added.
Her fears kicked in when the car abruptly came to a halt in an isolated area. The driver then pulled out a knife threatening to kill the young woman.
“He warned that if I refused his request he would kill me,” she said.
She then noticed a nearby billboard with guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, prompting an idea that could soon save her life.
“I told him that my family and I were infected with Covid-19 and if he didn’t leave me he would also become infected,” she said.
Frightened of catching the disease, the man threw her out of the car and drove away, the local paper added, noting a criminal investigation was launched to identify the attempted rapist.
Iran has been one of the hardest hit countries in the region by the coronavirus, with more than 82,211 cases and 5,118 deaths.
The country was slow to respond to the pandemic and delayed imposing widespread restrictions even after other countries in the region, with far fewer cases, forced most businesses to close.
On Saturday, Iran allowed some businesses in the capital and nearby towns to re-open after weeks of lockdown aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak.
Gyms, restaurants, shopping malls and Tehran’s grand bazaar will remain closed.
Shrines and mosques are also shuttered and a ban on public gatherings remains in place. Government offices have re-opened with a third of employees working from home, and schools and universities are still closed.
Traffic was heavy in Tehran early on Saturday, the first day of the work week. Authorities allowed businesses outside the capital to reopen a week ago.
Iran’s leaders have said they had to consider the economic consequences of quarantine measures, as the country struggles under severe sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump, after he withdrew the US from a nuclear deal with Tehran.