Iran faces fourth Covid wave following Nowruz holiday
Iran faces fourth Covid wave after millions travel for Nowruz holiday
Iran is braced for a fourth coronavirus wave after millions of people travelled across the country for new years celebrations despite authorities urging social distancing.
Millions of Iranians travelled across country to visit family and friends to celebrate Persian new year holiday, prompting a spike in coronavirus cases as the country is braced for another wave of infections.
Two provinces are already suffering a fourth wave, Alborz near Tehran and Ilam, in the West, the country's health ministry has said.
Some 15,000 people who knew they were infected with Covid-19 after testing positive at registered labs, travelled during Nowruz, the health ministry revealed.
"If we don’t have the necessary considerations, we might face this wave in other provinces as well. So we need to be careful," President Hassan Rouhani said during a televised session over the weekend.
Nowruz is a two-week celebration rooted in gatherings.
Though a nightly curfew in the capital forbids residents from venturing out after 9 p.m. and health officials pled with the public to stay home, it is believed that even fines did not deter some from travelling for new year celebrations.
Authorities did allow families to travel to the Caspian Sea and other vacation spots with lower infection rates, but other areas were a no-go.
Sharp rise in infections
The news comes as Iran’s daily new Covid-19 infections reached a four-month high on Monday, and the capital was put on the highest virus risk level.
In the past 24 hours, 13,890 new cases were confirmed across the country, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in televised remarks.
It is the highest number of daily infections since 4 December and close to the peak of 14,051 positive cases recorded on 28 November.
The country is battling the Middle East's deadliest outbreak of the Covid-19 illness and case numbers have risen following a surge in travel during the Iranian new year holidays that started on 21 March.
Tehran is now classified as "red" on the country's coronavirus risk scale along with 47 other cities, according to the health ministry, with only essential services, such as food providers and health centres, remaining open.
The new reported cases brought the total number of infections to over 1.94 million, Lari said.
Monday's 172 virus fatalities were also at their highest level since 23 December.
According to Health Minister Saeed Namaki, Iran is now facing "one of the most severe waves of the coronavirus".
"Sadly, no one listened to me about managing travel and today we're facing a great difficulty," he was quoted as saying by the ministry's website.