Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic
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.