Iran mulls possible two-week lockdown to deal with Delta coronavirus resurgence
Iran is considering imposing a strict two-week nationwide lockdown to deal with the resurgence of COVID-19, as the country's daily caseload continues to hit new records and authorities struggle to speed up vaccination, Xinhua reports.
In his very last days in office, Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Sunday advised the country's top leader to order a two-week lockdown.
On Tuesday, Iran's daily infections hit a new high of 39,019 cases across the country, and the deputy head of the health commission at Iran's parliament warned that the capacity of Iranian medical centers to hospitalize new patients is saturated.
The reasons for the sheer increase in infection rates since the end of June are the higher contagiousness of the Delta variant of the coronavirus currently spreading in Iran, and a decline in people's awareness of observing health recommendations.
Last week, Alireza Raisi, spokesman for Iran's national headquarters fighting the coronavirus, noted that the level of people's compliance with health protocols had fallen under 40 percent.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on Tuesday at a press briefing that the Iranian people are "under pressure" as a result of U.S. sanctions, which has led to a decrease in awareness to take epidemic prevention measures such as wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
Rahmani Fazli also warned vaccinated people against assuming they are invulnerable, adding that individuals who suffer from other health conditions and become infected may develop severe COVID-19 symptoms and die.
The minister was briefing the press about the conclusions reached at a meeting of the anti-COVID-19 headquarters requested by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to decide on the possible two-week lockdown.
The measure, Rahmani Fazli said, would require a precise analysis before it can be implemented.
Given the "extremely high" economic and social cost of such a lockdown, "every action must be smart, precise and purposeful," he added.
A persuasion campaign should be launched before enforcing the lockdown to guarantee cooperation from officials and the general public, the Iranian minister said.
He also requested collaboration from all governmental organizations to speed up vaccinations, which on Tuesday reached for the first time a rate of 500,000 doses administered in 24 hours.