On Sunday, November 22, “extensive lockdowns” across many cities and provinces in Iran entered a second day. And yet photographs and videos posted online show that the public has not paid much attention. As with other restrictive measures introduced by the National Coronavirus Taskforce, Iranians have largely ignored the rules.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, who is also the commander of the National Coronavirus “Base of Operations,” asked the national police to oversee the implementation of restrictions “as strongly as before.” He announced that officials had “assigned the necessary number of [paramilitary] Basijis to the police to help.”
He described the cooperation of the general public and business owners as “good,” but added that not everyone was following the rules. “Fines are not the basis of what we do but, during our surveillance, we will definitely take legal action against lawbreakers,” he said. “If the enforcement of the law is done quickly and on time it will be effective and its preventive power will be high.”
At the same time, Rahmani Fazli called on county and provincial officials to “say the same things” because, otherwise, he said, people will become confused.
Restrictions on traffic are causing problems for residents of several cities, in particular in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, which have larger and more concentrated populations. Government and private sector employees have also reported that they are not clear when they are supposed to work in their offices and when they should work remotely.
Fines First, Questions Later
In one example, photographs have surfaced showing crowds outside the city government buildings in Rasht, the capital of Gilan province, where people waited to obtain permits to drive despite restrictions. Ali Fathollahi, the governor of Rasht, has announced that on Saturday, November 21 alone, 4,000 such permits had been issued to eligible individuals. He said people should not go in person to government offices unless it is absolutely necessary.
Then, in an odd statement, he announced that people must pay a fine first and then, if they present the required document to authorities, they will be refunded the fine amount. “No permits whatsoever will be issued to enter the city, and people who are residents of Rasht but whose cars have out-of-town license plates will not be fined” provided they present their national ID cards to the police, or documents such as the lease for their residence.
Another issue that has caused confusion in Gilan province is that the 9pm to 4am traffic curfew has been lifted without any explanation being given.
News agencies have reported that members of the public are unclear as to which government agency they should go to if they receive a fine, and IranWire sources say that people have been unable to get any straight answers from Gilan’s Traffic Bureau.
Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, president of Tehran City Council, called on the governors of the northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan to seriously enforce restrictions so that people traveling outside of the province do not bring in the virus when they return to Tehran. He thanked the government and the National Coronavirus Taskforce for the 70 percent lockdown in Tehran despite the fact that, he said, it should have been introduced earlier.
In other news from Tehran, Mahmoud Tarfa, the managing director of Tehran Unified Bus Company, reported that as of noon on Sunday, November 22, 100 workers, employees, drivers and mechanics at the company had become infected with coronavirus. According to him, 10 company employees had so far lost their lives to coronavirus.
In Golestan province the surge of coronavirus infections continued. As of November 22, 504 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized across the province. Out of this number, 107 are being treated in ICUs and 54 are connected to ventilators. In the last 24 hours, 11 confirmed coronavirus patients died in the province.
In recent days the number of coronavirus fatalities in Alborz province had dropped slightly, but in the last 24 hours, following the death of 20 people, the province was back in a critical situation. During the same time period, 90 new patients with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized in the province, reported Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. As of November 22, 885 confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Alborz and the total coronavirus death toll in the province stood at 2,163.
In a new record, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Ardebil province reached 503. Out of this number, 85 were hospitalized in the last 24 hours alone, while 68 had been released from hospitals.
In Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, all ICU beds in Razi Hospital, the city’s main hospital, were full, although common wards in other hospitals in Ahvaz still had capacity to admit patients, reported Dr. Farhad Soltani, vice president of Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences. He also reported that in the last few days, the number of outpatients had declined.
In the week spanning November 14 to November 20, the average number of coronavirus infections in Iran was 24 per 100,000. The highest rate of infections occurred in the provinces of Ilam, Semnan and South Khorasan. The average number of fatalities in the same week was 5.44 per one million and the highest rate of fatalities occurred in the provinces of Yazd, South Khorasan, Ilam, West Azerbaijan and Semnan.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for November 22, 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