Iran Has Announced Reimposes Virus Restrictions As Delta Variant Spreads

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has announced on Sunday that it was reimposing coronavirus restrictions in key cities, as the highly infectious delta form spreads across the country, raising concerns of another disastrous outbreak.

Iran has ordered the closure of non-essential enterprises in 275 cities, including the capital of Tehran, after more than a year of fighting the biggest virus epidemic in the Middle East.

All public parks, restaurants, dessert shops, beauty salons, malls, and bookshops in the country’s “red zone” are closed “and “orange” zones, which are municipalities with a high risk of COVID-19.

The administration also announced that travel between cities with high infection rates would be prohibited.

Iran’s new limitations are aimed at slowing the spread of the highly transmissible delta strain initially discovered in India, which President Hassan Rouhani warned was driving a potential “fifth wave” of disease on Saturday “Infections in the nation are at an all-time high. New case reports have gradually increased in recent weeks, roughly tripling from mid-June to early July.

The country has recorded 3.2 million illnesses and 84,627 fatalities, making it the region’s greatest toll.

According to the online scientific magazine Our World in Data, Iran’s vaccine rollout is lagging, with fewer than 2% of the country’s 84 million people completely immunized. Iran claims to have given out 6.3 million doses so far. Those vaccinations were mostly obtained from outside the country, particularly through COVAX, an international effort that distributes vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Iran has also purchased Sinopharm vaccines from China and the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.

Because foreign vaccinations are still scarce, the country has stepped up attempts to create its own vaccines. Authorities gave emergency use clearance to the COVIran Barekat shot, which is made in the United States, last month without releasing evidence on its safety or efficacy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who had previously advised against the import of American and British vaccinations due to profound mistrust of the West, was seen receiving the homemade vaccine on state television and encouraged the people to do the same.

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