The curfew on non-essential businesses and services went into effect in many Iranian cities and provinces at 6pm on Tuesday, November 10. The National Coronavirus Taskforce and President Rouhani both announced that these new restrictions would greatly affect the number of coronavirus infections. Health minister Saeed Namaki has predicted that the number of coronavirus fatalities will fall by 15 percent within a month. Nevertheless, many health officials have criticized the new measures as inadequate and believe that a two-week total lockdown is necessary to reduce infections and fatalities and to give medical staff time to recover from exhaustion.
Not a Very Promising Start
The restrictions and curfews are to last for a month, until December 10. But the first day was not exactly promising. Media have reported that in various cities covered by the restriction, many shop owners, especially fast food shops, sandwich shops and restaurants, have expressed frustration with the rule that they have to close their shops at 6pm. In fact, reports also said local governments in these cities had to force some shops to close, but that some businesses managed to remain secretly open until 9pm.
Dr. Minoo Moharez, a member of the National Taskforce’s Scientific Committee, said that closing markets and public places at 6pm was not enough, not least because, she said, these public places “advertise on social networks that they are open and invite people to go there during morning hours,” which means that it becomes crowded at those times, and the virus is simply transmitted in the morning instead of in the evening.
Closing non-essential businesses after 6pm for a month “will contribute to a fall in the number of infections and hospitalizations but, considering the severe surge of the epidemic in our country, cautious measures can no longer work,” said Masoud Mardani, an infectious diseases specialist and member of the National Taskforce’s Scientific Committee.
Following the new orders approved by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, Tehran’s public transport system has also shortened its service hours. Starting on November 10, metro lines within Tehran’s city limits run only until 8:30 pm. Similar restrictions have also been placed on bus lines.
The measures have been brought in to fight the spread of coronavirus, but people who took the metro on the evening of November 10 said the size of the crowds was unprecedented.
Manaf Hashemi, deputy director of Tehran Municipality’s Transportation Department, denied that the municipality had anything to do with setting the hours of service for the city’s public transport. “It is the National Coronavirus Taskforce that has ordered the municipal governments of the big cities to reduce the hours,” he said. “Whether this decision has been approved by experts or not is a question for the taskforce.”
Military Support for Two-week Lockdown
A number of senior health ministry officials continue to insist that a two-week lockdown is necessary to control the spread of the virus. First deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi said the later effective measures were taken, the longer the epidemic would last and the bigger the country’s economic problems would become. “As long as coronavirus is at its peak, small measures get us nowhere,” he said. “A complete lockdown for two weeks is absolutely necessary. Members of the National Coronavirus Taskforce and the armed forces are of the same opinion.”
Dr. Moharez agreed. She said it was her opinion and “the opinion of the experts, including presidents of all medical science universities” that it is necessary for Tehran to be locked down “for two weeks or at least one week," as should all cities in a similar situation. She added that the heads of the medical universities had written to the health minister about the matter. “Afterwards, we can evaluate the situation and decide the next steps,” Minoo said, “so that we can reduce congestion at the hospitals that have really run out of space and are in a critical condition.”
Updates from Kerman and Kermanshah
In the 24-hour period spanning November 10 and November 11, another 13 Covid-19 patients died in the province of Kermanshah, bringing the total death toll in the province to 1,009, reported Mehdi Mohammadi, head of the coronavirus information office at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. During the same period, the total number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the province reached 1,226, with the addition of 263 new patients.
In Kerman province in the last 24 hours, the daily number of Covid-19 fatalities was 33, breaking a record for the province since the coronavirus outbreak. The total death toll in the province has now reached 1,413. According to Mehdi Shafiei, spokesman for Kerman University of Medical Sciences, as of November 11, 727 coronavirus patients are hospitalized across the province.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for November 11, the health ministry spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the last 24 hours:
Dr. Lari also reported that all 31 Iranian provinces are in red, orange or yellow states of alert.
This is part of IranWire's coronavirus chronology. Read the full chronology