Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus

Iranians wear face masks as a COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic precaution in Tehran on October 19, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 01 November 2020

Iran closes mosques, schools in deadly ‘third wave’ of coronavirus

  • Number of confirmed coronavirus cases up by 7,719 to 620,491 on Sunday
  • Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and those that violate health protocols will be shut down

JEDDAH:: Mosques, schools, universities, beauty salons, cafes, gyms, museums, theaters and swimming pools in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces were ordered to close for 10 days from next Wednesday.

In Tehran, the closure of beauty salons, teahouses, cinemas, libraries and fitness clubs has been extended for a week. 

Police will make unannounced visits to other high-risk businesses, and any found to be breaking health rules will be shut down. Weddings, funeral gatherings and conferences in the capital have been banned.

Authorities have blamed a sharp increase in coronavirus cases on people failing to follow restrictions, and President Hassan Rouhani said an operations headquarters would be set up to ensure compliance.

Iran was slow to respond to the pandemic when the first cases emerged there in February, and is now the worst-affected country in the Middle East. It recorded several recent daily fatality and infection highs, with figures on the rise since September.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran increased by 7,719 to 620,491, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Sunday.

The death toll rose by 434 to 35,298, she said.

Most analysts believe the real figures are higher. “The disease’s spread … especially in the city of Tehran is worse than what the government has revealed so far,” Etemad daily wrote on Saturday.

Calls are growing for a full national lockdown, which Rouhani has resisted because the Iranian economy, already collapsing under US sanctions, could not cope.

One leading doctor said daily fatalities could reach 900 unless tougher measures were taken. 

“The country, or high-risk cities, must be completely quarantined for two to three weeks,” said Alireza Naji, head of the virology department at Iran’s top respiratory disease hospital, Masih Daneshvari.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the virus remained largely under control. Health chiefs reported 403 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 347,282, and the death toll rose by 19 to 5,402. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 46 million people and killed nearly 1.2 million.

Amid fears of a “second wave” of infection sweeping Europe, Austria’s government declared a second mass shutdown and a curfew from this week until the end of November, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a new lockdown in England until Dec. 2.

 


Gaza imposes tighter virus restrictions, extends curfew

Updated 24 min 46 sec ago

Gaza imposes tighter virus restrictions, extends curfew

  • Mosques, schools, universities and kindergartens will be closed from Saturday in the Gaza Strip, excluding high schools and nurseries
  • Medical and political sources warned last week of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY: New measures to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip were announced on Thursday by the interior ministry of Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave.
Mosques, schools, universities and kindergartens will be closed from Saturday in the Gaza Strip, excluding high schools and nurseries, the interior ministry said in a statement.
A night-time curfew was also set to start from Saturday, lasting from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 am, while a full lockdown will be imposed on Fridays and Saturdays from December 11 through to the end of the month.
Shops and other premises must close by 6:00 p.m. and people must be home by 6:30 pm, compared to 8:00 p.m. under the previous curfew rules.
Medical and political sources warned last week of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip, saying the situation was “out of control.”
The enclave, a small, densely populated territory with two million inhabitants under an Israeli blockade, closed its borders early in the pandemic and only allowed a limited number of people to enter, requiring them to isolate for three weeks in quarantine centers.
Up until mid-August, authorities in Gaza had only recorded around 100 Covid-19 cases.
But in the past two weeks, containment of the virus has deteriorated in Gaza, with hundreds of new infections announced per day, resulting in a total of 23,023 cases and 122 deaths.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is among those who have recently been infected by the virus, the movement said Tuesday.