Middle EastIran sees record spike in COVID cases after holiday travels

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A view of closed shops in Tehran Bazaar following the tightening of restrictions to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases, Tehran, Iran April 10, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Iran on Tuesday reported a record 24,760 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, as the worst-hit country in the Middle East faced a fourth coronavirus wave.

Authorities have blamed the latest surge on millions travelling across the country for Iranian New Year last month and taking part in family gatherings in defiance of health precautions promoted by the government.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV on Tuesday that 24,760 new daily cases were identified, taking the total to 2,118,212 cases. The daily death toll rose to 291, the highest since Dec. 9, to bring the total to 65,055.

Lari said 295 counties have been classified as very high-risk "red" zones, and 99 as high-risk "orange" areas, while 45 counties were rated "yellow" and just 9 as low-risk "blue" zones.

On Saturday, Tehran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country. The lockdown affected 23 of the country’s 31 provinces. read more

Non-essential businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday in Iran.

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