Over 85% of Iran Placed In Highest Categories for COVID Infections, Prompting Mass Lockdown

With a population of around 84 million, Iran is experiencing a mass lockdown as authorities have said over 85 percent of the country is experiencing high COVID-19 infection rates, according to the Associated Press.

Red zones have enveloped Tehran, the country's capital, along with 250 cities and towns across the nation while some areas with slightly lower rates have been hit with orange zones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have Iran listed as a level 4 red zone overall, urging travelers to avoid the country.

"If you must travel to Iran, get fully vaccinated before travel," the CDC wrote online. "All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands."

Iranian Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said 25,078 new COVID-19 infection cases occurred over the past 24 hours in Iran on Thursday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The rising rates of infections, which has been the country's fourth wave, has come after the country celebrated the Iranian New Year Nowruz for two weeks, also known as the Persian New Year, which attracted millions of travelers to the country's popular vacation destinations, the AP reported.

A 10-day lockdown began in Iran on Saturday and has restricted access to a wide range of amenities such as parks, restaurants and malls.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Iranians Wearing Masks
Iranians wearing protective masks go about their day in the capital Tehran, on April 12, 2021, following the tightening of restrictions to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Iran has finalized a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday.

The report quotes Iran's ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying the contract has been "signed and finalized" for enough vaccinations to inoculate 30 million people.

Jalali said Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year.

Amid mass lockdowns, authorities ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as "red zones" with the highest infection rates.
There appeared to be no respite in sight to the virus's spread as Iran's vaccine rollout lagged. Only some 200,000 doses have been administered in the country of 84 million, according to the World Health Organization.

COVAX, an international collaboration to deliver the vaccine equitably across the world, delivered its first shipment to Iran on Monday from the Netherlands, containing 700,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

Iran in December began the human test phase of its homemade vaccine that it is expected to distribute in spring. The country has also began working on a joint vaccine with Cuba. It is also planning to import some 17 million doses of vaccine from COVAX and millions of doses from other countries.

Iran says several factors played a role in the rising number of cases, but insists the prime culprit was the U.K. variant of the virus that entered Iran from Iraq.

Earlier this year, the country started its coronavirus inoculation campaign, administering a limited number of Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses to medical workers.