Tehran, Iran – While Iranian officials are hopeful the country could soon overcome a fourth major wave of COVID-19 infections, local travel has been banned in the days leading up to religious holidays to mark the end of Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr, celebrated by Muslims around the world, will be marked by Iranians on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday is a weekend in the country. Millions of people usually travel on long vacations.
According to the health ministry, an additional 283 Iranians have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 74,524. Another 13,576 cases have also been recorded for a total of over 2.64 million infections. .
Alireza Raeisi, spokesperson for the national anti-coronavirus headquarters, said on Saturday that travel in all cities would be prohibited Tuesday from 2 p.m. local time and that the ban would continue until next Saturday at noon.
As with previous cases of extended vacations, many are likely to consider the penalties as part of their travel costs because they are not onerous.
In cities classified as “red” on a scale indicating the severity of epidemics, violators of the ban will have to pay a fine of 10 million rials ($ 47), and those in cities “orange” and “yellow” will have to pay the half of that amount.
According to Raisi, 46 cities in Iran’s 32 provinces are still classified as “red” while 263 are “orange” and 139 are “yellow”.
In the worst-hit cities, most businesses are open, but some, including indoor swimming pools and gymnasiums, cafes, cinemas and zoos, have been closed. If a business breaks the rules in “red” cities, officials said it would be closed for three weeks.
School and university entrance exams are also expected to be held in person, a move that sparked several student protests last week.
“ The best vaccine is the first vaccine ”
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that all provinces in the country had at some point reached their peak of infections and that cases are expected to decrease in the coming weeks.
He told a televised session of the National Anti-Coronavirus Task Force that the ‘very high’ fourth wave that engulfed the country was dominated by the variant first found in the UK which is more infectious than the original variant.
It was then that the first cases of infections with the variants found in South Africa and India were identified in Iran last week.
“The best vaccine is the first vaccine,” Rohani said as the country’s efforts to import large volumes of foreign vaccines continue to lag.
“We hope to be able to vaccinate our at-risk citizens, whether they are at risk due to age or underlying diseases, by the end of this government so that we can say that we have controlled the deaths,” said the outgoing president whose second term in office ends at the beginning of August.
After frontline healthcare workers and those suffering from a number of underlying illnesses, more than 80 Iranians are now listed for vaccines. The government on Saturday launched a website to register people and schedule them for a vaccine online.
Only two million doses of COVAX’s Chinese, Russian, Indian, Cuban and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered to Iranians in a country of more than 82 million people.
Several cases of vaccine diversion have already been reported in different cities despite the low number of vaccines. The head of a hospital in Tehran was fired last week for beating hospital staff only on relatives and acquaintances.
Rohani said about nine million more doses are expected in less than a month, without specifying the jabs.
In addition to the SOBERANA 02 vaccine from Cuba, developed in cooperation with the Institut Pasteur in Iran, three other locally produced vaccines are being tested in humans at different stages and should be mass produced by the end of the year. summer.