Iran: COVID-19 Cases Spike After Markets & Businesses Were Opened in Late April

Iran: COVID-19 Cases Spike After Markets & Businesses Were Opened in Late April

As Iranian bazaars reopened and businesses resumed from late April, excessive crowding followed amid Ramazan causing a new spike in coronavirus cases. Iran has been an epicenter for the outbreak having the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the Middle East surpassing 124,000.

For other countries who are rushing to reopen in a bid to return to ‘normalcy’, Iran is a cautionary tale. Opening up the country just on the basis of reduced number of new cases would be too risky unless the benchmarks recommended by health experts and WHO are met, such as ensuring widespread testing and contact tracing.

After the huge surge of COVID-19 cases during March peaking up to above 3,000 on daily basis on March 30 and 31, the country witnessed a gradual slump in April. As daily new cases fell down to as low as to 983 by the end of April, Iran reopened which came at a cost as on May 18 alone, 2,294 new cases emerged. The spike has occurred primarily in eight provinces, according to health officials and is continuing upward.

The behavior of the people has been as if nothing had happened despite fatalities of over 7,000 from the deadly pandemic. Commuters crowded subways and buses, restaurants did a brisk takeout business, and shoppers crowded traditional bazaars. Communal prayers at mosques were resumed in time for evening Ramazan gatherings.

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