EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday has ordered a widespread lockdown of cities hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak starting next Saturday, as daily infections and deaths are setting new records.
Starting Nov. 21, some 150 cities throughout the country, including Tehran, will move from partial shutdown to a full lockdown and cars will be banned from exiting or entering, IRNA reported.
During a meeting with Cabinet ministers, Rouhani said, “The government is forced to impose new policies and restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus with widespread lockdowns.”
In a statement published after the meeting, the president called for a “general mobilization of the public and the government” to tackle the third wave of infections.
The number of daily Covid-19 infections crossed the 13,000 mark on Monday, as the spokeswoman of Health Ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, reported the test results of 13,053 patients came out positive.
The newly detected cases have taken the tally to 775,000, she added.
Lari said the daily death toll also hit the record high of 486, increasing the previous record by 27 and taking the number of fatalities to 41,979.
“A winter harsher than the autumn is coming,” she warned.
From next Saturday for the duration of two weeks, 150 cities and towns across Iran are to be placed under lockdown and only essential businesses will be allowed to remain open.
Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday that the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s plan to close cities in red zone can be extended beyond two weeks.
“It’s a flexible scheme. It will not necessarily end after two weeks,” he said. “If a region’s transmission rate does not drop after two weeks, the plan can be extended.”
According to the spokesman, the government is preparing aid packages for the most vulnerable to limit the economic fallout of the two-week quarantine.
The initiative requires the presence of one-third of government employees in the office and also imposes restrictions on movement between cities.
Rabeie said, “In addition to widespread quarantine measures, we will increase testing capacity … to 100,000 per day.”
Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization will finance the Health Ministry’s efforts to increase testing from the current 40,000 to 100,000 to stem the pandemic.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the head of coronavirus operations, called on provincial authorities on Monday to mobilize all resources to combat the sharp rise in cases.
Iran has carried out over 5.54 million diagnostic tests in the past nine months. Some 5,677 are in critical condition and 564,000 have recovered from the respiratory illness.
Coronavirus infections around the world totaled 54.9 million on Monday and fatalities reached 1.32 million.