Apr 10, 2021 - World

Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic

Revolutionary Guard members prepare to take part in disinfecting the city on March 25, 2020 in Tehran, Iran

Revolutionary Guard members prepare to take part in disinfecting Tehran, Iran. Photo: Majid Saeedi / Getty Images

Iran on Saturday began enforcing tightened COVID restrictions nationwide as the number of coronavirus cases surged.

Driving the news: The country on Friday recorded 22,478 coronavirus cases, its highest single-day total, according to Al Jazeera. Health officials confirmed more than 19,660 cases on Saturday, as the surge in new infections follows last month's Iranian holiday celebrations.

  • President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address on Saturday that the primary driver of the fourth wave is the more contagious coronavirus variant first discovered in the U.K., per Al Jazeera.
  • He also attributed the rise in infections to shopping activity before Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and other holiday celebrations.

Details: Regions across Iran face fresh restrictions to varying degrees depending on how they're classified in the country's color-coded system, Al Jazeera reported.

  • In Tehran and 250 other cities classified as "red-zones," which have the highest positivity rates, most non-essential services must close.
  • Travel throughout "red-zone" areas is prohibited, and a curfew for private vehicles is in place between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
  • The new restrictions are expected to last at least 10 days.

Yes, but: "Authorities have done little to enforce lockdown restrictions and originally resisted a nationwide lockdown to salvage an economy already devastated by tough U.S. sanctions," AP noted.

The big picture: Iran has experienced one of worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the Middle East.

  • Fewer than 320,000 vaccine doses had been administered in the country of about 83 million as of April 5, according to the World Health Organization.
  • The country has recorded more than 2 million COVID-19 cases and 64,200 deaths since the pandemic began, semi-official Fars News Agency reported, quoting health officials.
Go deeper