Tehran, Covid-19: 'severe restrictions' to stop the escalation of infections

The government intends to introduce a series of measures from November 21 to stop rise in cases. In the last few days, a new record in infections and victims. President Rouhani calls for “social responsibility”. The Minister of Health speaks of “last chance” in the face of an “abyss from which we can no longer recover”.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The government of Tehran intends to introduce “severe restrictions” in many areas of the country starting next November 21, in an attempt to stem the spread of the new coronavirus in the nation most affected so far across the Middle East. The announcement was made by President , adding that the time has come to impose tougher measures to counter the escalation of new cases.

The Islamic Republic has never imposed a total lockdown between February and today, favouring the policy of quarantining people, not cities and regions, from the very beginning. However, Iran remains the most affected country in the area and, in recent weeks, the official figures relating to deaths and infections have reached a new record (over 800,000 cases and more than 42,000 victims).

“We are facing a new phase of social responsibility for the growing spread of the coronavirus,” Rouhani underlined yesterday during a cabinet meeting broadcast live on television. “Starting from Saturday 21 November – he added – severe restrictions will be imposed in the country”. The measures were designed to act as “a stark warning to society […] so that everyone returns to strict discipline.”

At the moment, the regulations that the government intends to introduce are not yet known in detail. According to the spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Sima Sadat Lari, all non-essential activities and services will be closed in the areas most at risk, including the capital Tehran and the high density large cities of the country. Sources reported by the press speak of restrictions on travel between different cities, the blocking of private vehicles between 9 pm and 4 am, the closure of schools and universities and the reduction of the public workforce by up to a third in high-risk areas. Most of the planned measures have already been applied previously, for a limited period of time.

Yesterday, 480 new victims were counted in just 24 hours. Only six less than the maximum daily peak since the start of the pandemic, which was recorded on 16 November. There are 13,421 new infections in a single day. For the Iranian Minister of Health Saeed Namaki, the new measures are “the last chance for the (health) system to resist” the virus. And if they are not observed, the country will fall “into an abyss from which we can no longer recover”. “We are facing a virus bomb – concluded Namaki – “and the virus’ spreading power has increased ten-fold.”

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