(Tehran) Iran announced new restrictions on Saturday to contain the coronavirus epidemic as the country sees record numbers of infections and deaths.
Posted on Aug 14, 2021 at 12:27 pm
Iran, the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic, has seen a sharp rise in infections since June, with authorities speaking of a “fifth wave” caused by the Delta variant.
The Disease Control Committee on Saturday announced the closure of government agencies, banks and non-essential businesses across the country from Monday through Saturday, May 21, inclusive.
Car traffic between the provinces is also banned between noon on Sunday (7:30 a.m. GMT) and August 27, he added.
The country, which has never completely narrowed its population, had already taken similar measures at the end of July, but only for the provinces of Tehran and Alborz.
The new restrictions come because Shia Ashura ceremonies are held during the week, with two public holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. Outdoor commemorations could take place, stressed Mr Raïssi.
In total, Iran has officially recorded more than 4.38 million infections, including more than 97,000 deaths, results largely underestimated by the authorities themselves.
” Too late ”
Financially gripped by the US sanctions imposed on it since 2018, Iran says it is struggling to import vaccines for its 83 million or so people.
More than 14.7 million people received a first dose, according to the Ministry of Health, but only 3.8 million received two.
These are mainly the vaccines Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Covaxin and AstraZeneca. Authorities also approved the emergency use of two locally made vaccines, including VOCiran Barekat, which are available in limited quantities.
On Saturday, according to AFP journalists, several thousand Iranians stood in front of the entrance of a shopping center in Tehran to receive a dose.
“Thank God the vaccination rate is accelerating day by day,” said a representative of the Ministry of Health, Bahare Karimi, at the vaccination center.
Hamed Rahmati, who works in a pharmacy, grows impatient while waiting for his turn. “They (the authorities) didn’t import (the vaccines) when they should, and now it’s too late,” he said.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi said Saturday the country needed 60 million doses of vaccines “to control the health situation”, according to the government website.
He added at a meeting of the Disease Control Committee that a decision had been made to import 30 million cans and that these would be available “soon”.
In January, the Supreme Leader of Iran banned imports of US and UK-made anti-Ovid vaccines on the grounds that they were not “trustworthy”.