Tehran, Iran – Iranian authorities were forced to impose new nationwide restrictions after last month’s lack of control over trips during the Persian New Year holiday leading to an explosive increase in COVID cases -19.
On Saturday, the authorities reported 19,666 cases across the country, with the figure second only to the one-day high of 22,478 registered the day before.
Iran has reported more than two million cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 64,232 deaths, 193 cases reported in the last 24 hours.
Starting Saturday, all regions across Iran will experience varying degrees of restrictions based on how they are classified according to the color-coded scale of the severity of outbreaks.
Iran’s coronavirus map looks like a red sea when more than 250 cities, including all 32 provincial centers, are now classified as “red”, showing the highest severity.
In these regions, only essential services can continue while educational activities, dining at restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls and a variety of retail stores will be closed. .
Traveling to such areas by private vehicle will also be prohibited while up to 50 percent of employees will be allowed into the office.
Curfew is in place nationwide for private vehicles from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
However, a state television report from the streets of Tehran showed traffic congestion and people crowded on public transport on their way to work on Saturday.
“They said it was closed but everything was open,” one resident told a state TV reporter in front of a packed bus.
The fourth wave
Last week, Iran announced it was facing the fourth infection, the largest infection so far.
The announcement comes weeks after tens of millions of people have been allowed to travel across the country and directly visit family and friends during the two-week holiday of Nowruz, Iran’s New Year, to be held on March 20. .
On Saturday, in a televised speech during a session of the national anti-coronavirus task force, President Hassan Rouhani said the main reason for the fourth wave was the large-scale intrusion of the variant. COVID-19 was first found in the UK through the country’s western border with Iraq.
Iranian health officials now estimate that more than half of the reported cases across Iran are of the United Kingdom variant.
The president said that shopping increased massively ahead of Nowruz, direct visits on Nowruz day, and weddings in the past two months are the other big reasons behind the increase. Nowruz travel “done without following the protocols” also contributes to the numbers, he added.
On average, only 56% of people are following the health guidelines, Rouhani said.
“If more than 90% of people follow the protocols, then we won’t have a new wave. Our medical staff are tired. Our society is exhausting, ”he said.
Iran has imported more than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from Russia, China, and India and through COVAX, a global vaccine initiative.
Three domestically produced candidates are also undergoing human trials, and five more are in the works.
But less than 1% of the country’s population of more than 82 million have been vaccinated to date.