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A new nightly curfew for business in Tehran to slow the spread of Covid-19 is unlikely to be sufficient as daily new infections in Iran topped 10,000 for the second day in a row, experts warned.
On Tuesday, the Iranian ministry of health revealed 10,339 new infections in the previous 24 hours, with the number of new deaths reaching 453, just six fewer than the record set on Sunday.
Iran has now suffered 39,202 deaths since the virus struck, making it one of the most afflicted countries not just in the Middle East but the world.
The Iranian authorities have imposed a nightly shutdown of businesses in Tehran from 6pm in an attempt to halt a disease that risks spiralling out of control in a country suffering severe pressure on its health services. But many health experts and politicians regard the measures as inadequate, with the number of daily new infections rising from just over 5,000 a day on 20 October to Tuesday’s high of 10,339. The total number of victims reached 39,202, and the total number of patients increased to 703,283.
At a press conference, the government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the most important issue facing the country was the fight against the virus, and claimed a new mutation was at large. He declared that the virus now spreading in the country does not follow the behaviour of previous iterations, adding “it has undergone many dramatic changes from the beginning until today”.
He continued: “So far, 88% of the deaths were from the elderly and people with underlying diseases, but now the virus is affecting younger people even more severely.” He said: “600 daily deaths in France show these changes.”
While it is well established that the coronavirus has gone through a number of mutations, various claims over the course of the pandemic that it could be becoming either more contagious, lethal or even less severe have generally seen pushback from the World Health Organization and other health bodies that have been monitoring the changes to the virus.
The most recent mutation to draw attention was a variant found in mink in Danish fur farms, which prompted so far unsupported claims last week that it might be resistant to a future vaccine.
Rabiei urged Iranians not to be tired with the struggle against the disease, but instead to adhere to the protocols even more closely, adding many of the transmissions seemed to be occurring mainly in family settings or in buildings with little ventilation.
Hossein Ali Shahriari, the head of the parliamentary health commission, wrote a letter to the president asking him to shut down Tehran and its metropolitan areas for 15 to 30 days due to the severity of the outbreak.
He said the damage of a two-week shutdown would be less than leaving the crisis as it stood with hospital beds running out. The financial cost to the government of supporting workers and small businesses hit by the shutdown would be less than the cost to the health service, he said. The nightly 6pm business curfew and fines for not wearing masks were not sufficient steps, he said.
With the Iranian political classes hotly debating the implications of Joe Biden’s election as president for the terms of a possible US return to the Iranian nuclear deal, the future of the Iranian economy and the potential lifting of sanctions, many Iranian officials want to keep the focus on fighting the virus by creating what is described as a huge social movement to save one another’s lives through acting responsibly to one another. Iranian front pages have run photos showing the faces of 99 health workers killed by the virus, and urging their readers to recognise their responsibilities.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Tehran curfew unlikely to halt Iran’s Covid spread, experts warn | World news