Iran orders 10-day shutdown amid fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic

Iran orders 10-day shutdown amid fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic

Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday to curb the spread of a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported citing state media.

The lockdown affects 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, health ministry spokesman Alireza Raisi said. Businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday.

Iran’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million with a new daily average of over 20,000 infections over the past week, according to the health ministry. It has reported more than 64,000 fatalities.

“Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave,” President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks. He blamed the surge foremost on the variant that first emerged in the UK which spread to Iran earlier this year from neighbouring Iraq.

Other factors included widespread travel, weddings, and celebrations during the Iranian New Year holidays that began on March 20, he said.

The UK variant is now predominant in the country, and 257 cities and towns are in red alert, Raisi said.

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