TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Saturday shuttered businesses and curtailed travel between its major cities, including the capital of Tehran, as it grapples with the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the Mideast region.
Top Iranian officials initially downplayed the risks posed by the virus outbreak, before recently urging the public to follow measures like wearing masks and avoiding unessential travel.
Iran has recorded daily death tolls of above 430 over the past five days. The Iranian Health Ministry said on Saturday that the total number of confirmed cases has risen to above 840,000.
The new lockdown measures, which include shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, include Iran’s largest cities of Mashhad, Isfahan, and Shiraz. Iranian authorities have designated the nearly 160 towns and cities affected as hot spots because these urban centers have the highest daily per capita positive coronavirus test results.
On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani