Iran reports record rise as Covid-19 cases spike in Middle East

Several countries introduce new restrictions as a rise of infections hits the region, and Bahrain moves to vaccinate frontline workers

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Iran remains the Middle East nation worst hit by the pandemic, reporting a one-day record of 8,932 new cases on Tuesday, as countries across the region announce new restrictions to stem the second wave.

President Hassan Rouhani announced new restrictions that will take effect on Wednesday in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces for 10 days.

The official Irna news agency said Tehran police had extended by one week the closure of businesses, including beauty salons, tea shops, cinemas, libraries and fitness clubs.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state television that 422 patients had died in the past 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 36,160, and that cases exceeded 637,000.

Turkey will also close all businesses, including restaurants, pools, hair salons, wedding venues, cinemas and concert halls, at 10pm as part of measures against the pandemic, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Daily cases in Turkey have also spiked, with 2,302 patients identified on Monday, but Ankara reports only the number of those who show symptoms.

Bahrain granted emergency approval for the use of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate on frontline workers from Tuesday, state news agency BNA said, reporting an announcement by the health minister.

The UAE in September allowed similar emergency use of the same vaccine for frontline workers at high risk of infection.

The vaccine, nearing the end of Phase-3 trials in Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan, is a partnership between Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group and Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42.

In Jordan, five ministries closed their doors on Tuesday after announcing new infections among employees a day earlier.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities suspended its working hours for Tuesday and Wednesday after new infections were reported.

Jordan’s General Fatwa Department also announced the suspension of work for a period of 72 hours to screen staff for the virus. It expects they will resume work next Sunday.