Since the beginning of November, the official number of coronavirus fatalities has been higher than 400 per day on all but three days. The highest, 486, was on Monday, November 16, but the figure for November 17 was not much better, at 483. The surge of new cases passed the 10,000-mark on November 9 and has continued to rise since then. The number of new Covid-19 cases, 13,352, on November 17, was the highest since the pandemic started in Iran.
Numerous health experts and health ministry officials have repeatedly insisted that the only way out of the crisis is a total lockdown of big cities, which would also give health workers and the health system a much-needed opportunity for a relative break and a chance to plan for the coming weeks. And yet, hopes for a total lockdown were dashed, reportedly because President Rouhani opposed the idea. Instead, another plan, dubbed “the comprehensive plan to impose dynamic restrictions to fight coronavirus,” was adopted.
The plan will take effect on Saturday, November 21, and President Rouhani’s administration says it hopes these efforts against the surge of coronavirus will succeed through “solidarity” and “general mobilization.”
Nevertheless, health minister Saeed Namaki was not unconditionally optimistic. “If people cooperate we shall win the game,” he said, but warned that, otherwise, coronavirus fatalities could reach a 4-digit figure.
More Details about the New Plan
Under this plan, according to Alireza Raeesi, spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce, restrictions will be imposed in 25 provincial capitals and in a number of big cities. In the cities affected, only essential businesses and services will be allowed to remain open and operational, including food shops, rescue and relief services, supermarkets, medical centers such as clinics and hospitals, and centers to maintain the water, electricity, gas and phone infrastructure.
In all cities in red, orange and yellow states of alert, schools, universities and religious and cultural centers will be closed and Friday prayers will not be allowed. Only one-third of employees are permitted to work in-person at one time in any government office.
Restrictions have also been placed on traffic between cities in red and orange areas. In cities designated as red or orange, vehicles with local license plates cannot enter any city apart from the one in which they are registered. For instance, if a car has a Tehran license plate it is not permitted to enter the city of Isfahan. And vehicles with non-local license plates cannot enter red cities. People who violate these rules will be required to pay fines.
However, there are still some uncertainties about the restrictions due to get underway on Saturday, November 21, mainly about restrictions in Tehran. Various officials have made a range of statements about curfews and other rules in Tehran. The newest comes from Isa Farhadi, governor of the city of Tehran, who announced that all non-essential businesses must close and traffic must stop between the hours of 9pm and 4am.
“On occasion, we have hospitalized all members of the same family,” said Alireza Moraveji, president of Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Isfahan province. “In the 35th week of the epidemic the rate of infections in Kashan was 17 per 100,000 of the population, as it was in Isfahan province as a whole, but since November 13 the rate of infections in the Kashan area has risen to 23 per 100,000. This means that the hospitalization of those who have tested positive has increased. But these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, meaning that there are more patients who have not been identified and remain at home.”
Moraveji also reported that all hospitals in Kashan were filled to capacity and the university was forced to set up and equip 80 beds in a gymnasium.
The number of Covid-19 fatalities in the small Persian Gulf island of Kish now stands at 20. Until recently, Kish, with a population of around 40,000, was in a “green” state of alert, or at low risk. Dr. Mohammad Reza Rezania, president of Kish Health Center, says the main reason for new fatalities has been that patients have delayed going to medical centers. “People must consider any pulmonary symptom as a possible sign of coronavirus infection and be aware that if they go to treatment centers in the early days of infection, recovery will be much more likely and much easier.”
In the 24-hour period spanning November 16 and November 17, in the province of Kermanshah, which has been in a red state of alert for weeks ,17 more Covid-19 patients died, bringing the total coronavirus death toll in the province to 1,116. In the last 24 hours, 234 new Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, bringing the total to 1,110.
With the new “extensive” restrictions just around the corner, Kermanshah’s provincial government announced that all cities in the province are in a red state of alert, meaning that restrictions for red areas will be imposed across the whole province.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for November 17, 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