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Iran Reports Record Number Of New COVID-19 Cases As Travel Ban Imposed


Source: RFE/RL

Stepping up its fight against the new coronavirus outbreak, Iran has begun banning people from leaving their cities and requiring those who are already on Persian New Year trips to return to their hometowns at the earliest opportunity.

Official Iran's statistics on coronavirus as of March 26
Infections: 29,406
Deaths: 2,234
New Cases: 2,389
Recovered: 10,457

Iran has announced 157 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the official toll to 2,234, as a ban on intercity travel came into effect amid fears of a second wave of infections in one of the world's worst-hit countries

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told a news conference that a record-breaking 2,389 new cases have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of declared infections to 29,406.

Jahanpur said that the spread of the new coronavirus and its rate of infection was "growing steadily" in Iran.

A poster in the city of Isfahan encourages people to "Stay at Home"
(photo by ISNA)

The travel ban was imposed after officials had complained that many Iranians ignored the authorities' advice to stay at home and cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year holidays that began on March 20.

"Those who have traveled for the Iranian New Year holidays should immediately return to their cities without making any stop in the cities on their way back home," Hossein Zolfaghari, a member of Iran's national headquarters for fighting the coronavirus, said on March 26.

"The closure of universities and schools as well as the suspension of gatherings has been extended," Zolfaghari said, adding that violators of the measures will face legal consequences.

On March 25, the government warned about the danger of ignoring the authorities' travel guidelines.

"This could cause a second wave of the coronavirus," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to state TV.

A family in Qom enjoying the quiet outdoor
(photo by ISNA)

President Hassan Rohani said Iran will contain the coronavirus spread in two weeks, adding that further measures have been taken to ease the economic impact of the outbreak on lower-income citizens.

"We will send a letter to Iran's supreme leader today to seek permission for the withdrawal of $1 billion from Iran's sovereign wealth fund," Rohani said in a meeting, broadcast live on state TV.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last say on all state matters.

Iran has rejected an offer from the Geneva-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to set up a 50-bed inflatable hospital in the central city of Isfahan to deal with the outbreak.

It has also refused the United States' offer of humanitarian assistance, saying that Washington should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran fight the epidemic.

Iran has been under crippling U.S. sanctions in connection with its nuclear and missile programs.

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