Iran hits new virus records, curbs travel
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Iran on Wednesday announced temporary travel restrictions on five major cities including the capital Tehran as the country hit new single-day records in both Covid-19 deaths and new infections.
The measures include banning travel to and from the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Mashhad, Isfahan and Urmia, the health ministry's Kianoush Jahanpour told state television.
It runs from midnight until Sunday noon, only involving private vehicles but not "public transportation" such as buses and planes, he said.
According to Jahanpour, the measure may be renewed after Sunday and extended to other cities. The aim was to dissuade Iranians from travelling at the weekend, which runs from Thursday to Friday in Iran, and a public holiday on Saturday.
Deaths and infections from the virus have been on a sharply rising trajectory in Iran since early September. Covid-19 deaths numbered 279 on Wednesday as 4,830 new cases of infection were confirmed, the highest single-day figures since the Islamic republic reported its first cases in February.
The novel coronavirus has killed a total of 29,349 people out of 513,219 cases in the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic. The numbers are likely to be higher than officially reported, deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi acknowledged Wednesday, primarily due to testing and reporting protocols.
Iran on Saturday started imposing fines for the first time for breaches of health rules in the capital. Tehran authorities on October 3 shut most public spaces and cancelled gatherings for a week, a move that was extended to Wednesday.