Iran has announced it is reimposing coronavirus restrictions on major cities, as the spread of the highly contagious delta variant spurs fears of another surge in the country.
On July 4, authorities ordered the closure of nonessential businesses in 275 cities, including the capital, Tehran. The shutdown of all public parks, restaurants, beauty salons, malls and bookstores applies to the country's "red" and "orange" zones, or municipalities ranked as having an elevated risk of COVID-19. The new restrictions have come after a July 3 warning by President Hassan Rohani that the country could face another wave of coronavirus infections. "It is feared that we are on the way to a fifth wave throughout the country," Rohani told a meeting of Iran's antivirus task force, warning the public to be careful as "the Delta variant" had entered the country from the south and southeast.
Reports of new cases have risen steadily in recent weeks, nearly doubling from mid-June to early July.
Iran is among the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 and the worst hit in the Middle East. According to official figures, the country has a total of 3.2 million infections and 84,792 deaths. Real numbers are believed to be higher. The spike comes amid a slow vaccination campaign. Media reported on July 4 that some Iranians are traveling to neighboring Armenia to get vaccinated. The Health Ministry has said that nearly 4.5 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 while only about two million Iranians have received two doses of vaccine. Officials have promised that the situation will improve in the coming weeks.