March 23, 2020
Deputy Governor of Tehran Province has announced that all commercial establishments must stay closed from Sunday, March 22, except for chain supermarkets and pharmacies.
Meanwhile, a health official in Tehran said there has been a five percent spike in visits of people infected with coronavirus to hospitals in Iran’s capital.
Hamidreza Goudarzi, deputy governor was quoted by IRNA as saying, the order to keep businesses closed has been issued to all officials who have a duty to enforce the decision.
Iran’s central government has resisted closing businesses and offices to stem the tide of the deadly virus. President Hassan Rouhani on March 21 alleged that “anti-revolutionaries wanted to bring Iran’s economy to a standstill”.
Critics say that an early decision to quarantine the hotspots of the epidemic and restrict travel between provinces would have made a big difference in the severity of the epidemic.
The government, while not placing restrictions is blaming citizens for not following guidelines and warnings to stay home.
Alireza Zali, the head of the Corona Task Force while announcing a five percent increase in hospital visits by people infected with the virus, also said there has been a 12 percent jump in critical cases among patients. Zali also complained that Tehran residents have not taken coronavirus seriously and think it is just another kind of common cold.
While inter-city trips on the Iranian New Year on March 20 decreased compared with last year, still millions of people travelled to other provinces for their two-week new year break.
In some regions local officials and residents have been turning away cars arriving from other parts of the country.
The health ministry put the official number of deaths from the epidemic at 1,556 as of Saturday and infections at 20,610, but according to Radio Farda’s independent estimate at least 2,216 have died and around 47,000 have contracted the virus.