Iranians are marking a quiet Eid al-Adha on Wednesday amid a stringent lockdown in the capital Tehran and adjoining provinces over a fresh wave of the pandemic.

The six-day lockdown, announced on Tuesday, came ahead of the Eid holiday as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is driving the fifth wave of the pandemic in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

Only the emergency services are operational. Businesses, government offices, banks, and mosques remain closed, while religious and cultural events related to Eid have also been canceled by the health authorities.

To prevent people from traveling during the Eid holiday, inter-city vehicular movement has been barred. The fourth wave of the pandemic was fueled by people who traveled to the northern coastal provinces during New Year (Nowruz) holidays.

The fifth wave of the COVID-19 has seen daily cases and fatalities surge to a three-month high. On Wednesday, 27,379 new infections were recorded besides 213 deaths. The tally is likely to rise with hospitals teeming with new patients, according to health officials.

The number of red categories (high risk) cities has jumped to 232 while 117 cities are presently marked as orange (moderate risk). Tehran and the neighboring Alborz province are facing a crisis situation, as pictures emerging from hospitals and graveyards suggest.

While the vaccine rollout has gained pace in the last few weeks, a vast majority of people under 50 years of age remain unvaccinated and are prone to new COVID-19 variants. On Tuesday, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi issued a public apology over a slow vaccination.

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