Coronavirus-hit Iran to ban inter city travel as death toll tops 2,000

WION Web Team Tehran, Iran Mar 25, 2020, 05.12 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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So far, Iran has resisted imposing any lockdown, choosing instead to rely on verbal appeals for people to stay home.

Iran to ban inter-city travel within days, the government announced as the death toll due to coronavirus topped 2,000 Wednesday. While the number of infections rose to 27,017 after the health ministry registered new cases of 2,206 new cases of COVID-19.

The latest development comes after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that his government was poised to introduce tough new measures against the coronavirus which first originated in China and now has rapidly spread to over 200 countries. 

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"We need to step up those measures," Rouhani said in a televised address. He also said that the health ministry had "presented the committee with a plan" that could be "approved and published" during the day.

 "It may create problems for people's travel plans and require that people return home early," the president said.

"It could stop the next wave of journeys. People have to realise that these are difficult decisions that are being taken to protect people's lives.

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"But we have no choice because the lives of Iranians are important to us."

So far, Iran has resisted imposing any lockdown, choosing instead to rely on verbal appeals for people to stay home.

But those have been widely ignored. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the roads as usual last weekend to spend the two-week Persian New Year holiday with family despite fears of the disease spreading from the big cities to the countryside.

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Rouhani said the new measures would be adopted for 15 days and would be "implemented thoroughly until Saturday, April 4," the day when children normally return to school after the holiday.

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Iran on Wednesday announced 143 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 2,077 in one of the world's worst-hit countries.

(With inputs from agencies)