JEDDAH/TEHRAN: Iran faced a province-by-province national lockdown on Saturday as coronavirus infections threatened to spiral out of control.
“We are forced to intensify regulations and supervisions, starting in the capital Tehran,” President Hassan Rouhani said.
Government-run coronavirus task-force offices around the country will make recommendations on restrictions and whether to impose one-week lockdowns. Measures could include “restrictions or shutdowns” of schools, universities, seminaries, mosques, cafeterias, sports and cultural venues, and hair salons.
“If provincial governors deem it necessary, these centers will have to close for a week,” Rouhani said.
Iran’s official death toll from COVID-19 rose by 172 to 25,394 on Saturday, with 443,086 confirmed cases. Tehran was slow to respond to the initial outbreak, and independent analysts both inside and outside the country believe the real number of cases is far higher than official figures suggest.
Health chiefs have expressed alarm over the surge in infections, and urged Iranians to respect health protocols to control the spread of the disease.
Iran has now recorded 301 deaths per million population, compared with 133 per million in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia reported 461 new cases on Saturday, raising the total to 332,790, and the death toll rose by 30 to 5,655. More than 300,000 patients in Saudi Arabia have recovered from COVID-19.