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Govt. Spokesman: Iran Fears New Wave of Coronavirus as Death Toll Reaches 2,077

Govt. Spokesman: Iran Fears New Wave of Coronavirus as Death Toll Reaches 2,077

Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 - 09:00
Iranian firefighters disinfect the streets of Tehran in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world's worst hit countries. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran may face a second outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Wednesday, as the country banned internal travel and gatherings.

"Unfortunately some Iranians have ignored advice from health ministry officials and traveled during the holiday...This could cause a second wave of the coronavirus," he said.

President Hassan Rouhani has banned any new trips between cities, Rabiei warned, and "violators will be confronted legally."

The escalating outbreak in Iran has killed 2,077 people so far, health ministry official Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday, with 143 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

At a meeting telecast live, Rouhani said more restrictions would be introduced to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure described by the president as "difficult" for the public would be adopted for 15 days and would be "implemented thoroughly until Saturday, April 4," the day when children normally return to school after the holiday.

"This new plan is strict and it will create difficulties and restrictions for travel, and prompt people who have already traveled to return home faster," Rouhani added in his statements.

For his part, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told official news agency IRNA Wednesday that the ban would enter force Thursday "or the day after".

Iran which is one of the world's worst hit countries did not impose lockdown so far, choosing instead to rely on verbal appeals for people to stay home.

However, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the roads as usual last weekend to spend the two-week Iran's New Year holiday with family despite fears of the disease spreading from the big cities to the countryside, AFP reported.

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