SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran had entered the fourth wave of coronavirus, blaming it on a new variant that first emerged in the UK which spread to Iran earlier this year from Iraq.
Iran’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million with a new daily average of over 20,000 infections over the past week, according to the health ministry. It has reported more than 64,000 fatalities.
“Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave,” Rouhani said in televised remarks.
“It has several factors. The first is the British virus which entered the country from Iraq. If the virus had not entered the provinces from Khuzestan and Ilam border crossings, we would not have had this problem today,” he added.
The border crossings located in western Iran, bordering neighboring Iraq.
He further said other factors included widespread travel, weddings, and celebrations during the Iranian New Year holidays that began on March 20.
Iran’s state media reported that Iran had imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday to curb the spread of a fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown affects 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, health ministry’s spokesman Alireza Raisi said, according to Reuters. The UK variant is now predominant in the country, and 257 cities and towns are in red alert, Raisi added.
Businesses, schools, theaters and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Iran has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the Middle East. In February, it closed several crossing points with Iraq in an effort to stem the spread of the UK variant.