Iran fears second wave of coronavirus as death toll rises to 2,077

Iran fears second wave of coronavirus as death toll rises to 2,077

Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a government spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Islamic Republic banned internal travel and traditional gatherings in parks during the Persian New Year holiday period, The Star reports.

"Unfortunately some Iranians have ignored advice from health ministry officials and travelled during the New Year holidays ... This could cause a second wave of the coronavirus," spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to state TV.

President Hassan Rouhani has banned any new trips between cities, Rabiei said, and "violators will be confronted legally".

The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 2,077 people so far, health ministry official Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

Officials have complained that many Iranians ignored appeals to stay at home and cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20.

"This (new) plan is strict and it will create difficulties and restrictions for travel, and prompt people who have already travelled to return home faster," Rouhani said in a remarks carried by state television.

At a meeting telecast live, Rouhani said more restrictions would be introduced to contain the coronavirus that has infected 27,017 people nationwide. The government has so far stopped short of imposing a lockdown on Iranian cities.

The president said gatherings would also be restricted during Sizdah Bedar on April 1, a nature festival during which Iranians traditionally have picnics outdoors.