EghtesadOnline: Iran is returning lockdown restrictions to its hard-hit counties, as overnight coronavirus fatalities hit record high for the second time this week.
“The Health Ministry registered 163 daily deaths on Sunday, up by 10% compared to a day earlier and beating Iran’s previous record by one. The national death toll reached 11,571,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Sima Sadat Lari, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Some 2,560 newly-confirmed coronavirus cases took the tally to 240,438.
Following a surge in infections across the country, the Iranian government ramped up coronavirus measures, giving authority to provinces to reimpose restrictions in high-risk counties. The localized lockdown aims to prevent another nationwide economic shutdown.
According to Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, nine provinces met the criteria for “red” zones, which allows the imposition of curbs on high-risk counties.
“Red” counties have placed a ban on wedding ceremonies and funerals, and closed level three and four businesses, including restaurants, cinemas and mosques.
On the reason for a peak in “red” provinces, Harirchi said, “Many of these provinces, including Khuzestan and Hormozgan, were quiet in late February and March, but they are now experiencing the first wave.”
Harirchi added, “Tehran is not ‘red’ yet but the numbers are alarming. There is a chance of level three and four businesses closing down in Tehran.”
In addition to the capital, eight other provinces have registered alarming figures, Lari said.
The deputy health minister speculated that “white” provinces could be the next cause for concern.
Mask Demand Rises
Harirchi said demand for facemasks has more than doubled in the city of Tehran over the past few days, as the government began the countdown to its mandatory mask wearing order and enforced the new law starting Sunday.
Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raeisi noted that facemasks are “one of the cheapest and most effective ways” of breaking the chain of transmission.
He urged people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces and said, “We were doing good, but then the pandemic was normalized and caused adherence to health protocols to drop from 80% to below 20%.”
According to Raeisi, the government will crack down on health protocol violators to encourage compliance.
“Nearly 282,000 business places were shuttered because they violated protocols,” he said.
Over 201,000 Iranians have survived the disease and 3,168 are in critical conditions.
The country has carried out 1.79 million tests to identify infected patients.
The Covid-19 pandemic has so far claimed the lives of over 534,000 and infected 11.4 million worldwide.