Covid-19: Tehran imposes new restrictions against Delta variant

Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani is already talking about a potential "fifth wave" of contagion. The measures will be enforced in 275 cities, including the capital. Restaurants, parks, shops, beauty salons and shopping centres in the "red" and "orange" zones will be closed. The vaccination campaign has been halted: only 2% of the population has received both doses of the vaccine. 

 


Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Iranian government intends to reintroduce restrictive measures in the country's main cities in an attempt to limit the spread of the Delta (Indian) variant of Covid-19, which is much more contagious than its predecessors and responsible for the escalation of infections in Great Britain and Asia. The fear is of a fifth, devastating wave that could bring the country to its knees, as it is the most affected by the pandemic in the region in terms of the number of infections and victims.

In the past, Tehran has repeatedly attacked the sanctions imposed by the United States (and Europe) against the Islamic Republic, which allegedly hindered the purchase of vaccines and medicines from abroad. More than a year into the fight against the virus, government authorities have ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in 275 cities, including the capital.

The closure of all public parks, restaurants, cake shops, beauty salons, shopping centres and bookshops applies to the so-called 'red' and 'orange' zones and municipalities classified as high risk for Covid-19. The government also intends to impose a ban on travel between cities with high infection rates. 

The restrictions aim to contain the spread of the virus, with outgoing president Hassan Rouhani already talking of a potential "fifth wave" of infections in the country. In recent weeks, the number of cases has grown steadily, doubling between mid-June and early July. 

In total, there have been 3.2 million infections and 84,627 deaths in the Islamic Republic, the highest figure in West Asia. The new escalation hits a nation still stuck in the vaccination campaign, with less than 2% of the population (84 million in total) having completed the vaccination cycle. Authorities say they have administered 6.3 million doses so far.

The vast majority of vaccine supplies come from abroad, including the international Covax programme for distribution in low- and middle-income countries. Tehran has also imported Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V. 

However, the government has decided to speed up the production of Iranian vaccines due to the limited quantity available. Last month, the authorities granted permission for the emergency use of COVIran Barekat, though without publishing any data on its efficacy and safety. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had previously warned against importing American and British vaccines in a climate of deep distrust towards the West, received the "Made in Iran" vaccine on state TV. He finally appealed to Iranians, encouraging them to follow suit.

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