Iran locks down cities

Iran locks down cities

Iran has started an intercity travel ban, an Iranian official said in a televised news conference a day after Iran's government spokesman warned the country might face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

"Those who have travelled for the Iranian New Year holidays should immediately return to their cities without making any stop in the cities on their way back home," member of Iran's national headquarters for fighting the coronavirus Hossein Zolfaghari said.

The authorities have called on Iranians to avoid public places and stay at home, while schools, universities, cultural and sports centres have been temporarily closed.

"The closure of universities and schools as well as suspension of gatherings has been extended," Zolfaghari said, adding that violators of the measures will face legal consequences.

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will contain the spread of the virus in two weeks, adding that further measures have been taken to ease the economic impact of the outbreak on lower-income citizens.

"We will send a letter to Iran's supreme leader today to seek permission on withdrawal of $1 billion from Iran's sovereign wealth fund," Rouhani said in a meeting, broadcast live on state TV.

The outbreak has killed 2,077 people in Iran where there have been 27,017 reported cases of the virus so far.

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