TEHRAN (Iran News) – The Iranian Ministry of Health has announced that a nationwide lockdown is necessary for two weeks in order to curb the recent wave of coronavirus which has surged infections and mortalities following the Noruz (New Year holidays).
Currently, 257 counties, including all provincial capital cities, are in the high-risk red zones, according to the Ministry.
“It is necessary that the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control to shut down all government organizations, restrict intercity traveling by personal and public vehicles, and impose heavy penalties for violators, otherwise the number of deaths would rise to 600 per day.”
The number of coronavirus cases has been rising in Iran after millions traveled across the country during the two-week Noruz holidays, which officially began on March 20.
Before Noruz, health officials voiced concerns about the fourth COVID wave due to the traditional travels, mostly to visit family and loved ones.
Authorities had urged people to limit travel and in-person visits, saying that travels during the Noruz festival could lead to another wave of infections across the country.
The UK variant was first observed in the country a few months ago, but now the virus has spread widely across the country to an extent that no provinces have been spared from it, Massoud Mardani, a member of the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control, said.
The rate and severity of transmission are much higher than the Chinese virus, being 70 percent more infective, he added, IRNA reported on Wednesday.
Unlike the Wuhan virus, new strain infects young people under the age of 20 and children more, and especially the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk, he noted.
New cases and mortalities
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Health Ministry’s spokesperson Sima-Sadat Lari confirmed 20,954 new cases of COVID-19 infection, raising the total number of infections to 1,984,348. She added that 1,675,891 patients have so far recovered, but 4,177 remain in critical conditions of the disease.
During the past 24 hours, 193 patients have lost their lives, bringing the total number of deaths to 63,699, she added.
So far, 13,331,229 COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been performed in the country.