Iran Locks Down Amid Fear of 5th Wave
A mask-clad man walks accross a bridge along which a banner is hung showing Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei receiving a vaccine against the coronavirus, in the capital Tehran, on July 3, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran Locks Down Amid Fear of 5th Wave

Egypt manufactures vaccine doses of China’s Sinovac and Oman announces lockdown for Eid Al Adha

Iran declared on July 4 that all nonessential businesses in the Islamic Republic would be shuttered in 275 cities, and inter-Iran travel would no longer be permitted, according to The Associated Press. This comes as fear grows of a “fifth wave” of COVID-19 throughout the nation amid a spike in new cases. With over 80,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, Iran is the hardest-hit country in the Middle East North Africa region when it comes to coronavirus fatalities.

Under 5% of Iranians have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, compared to just over 72% of people living in the United Arab Emirates, which surpassed Seychelles as the most inoculated nation in the world this week.

The UAE’s Federal Authority for Government Human Resources announced on Thursday that at the beginning of next month unvaccinated individuals must present a negative PCR test result from the last 48 hours in order to visit federal government departments and ministries.

Just a few days ago, Abu Dhabi approved the emergency use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

This comes as the Tunisian government announced it would buy 3.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as the number of cases in the North African country has skyrocketed. The country’s prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, just returned to work on July 5 since contracting the coronavirus.

In other vaccine news, Egypt announced July 7 that it had manufactured over 1,000 doses developed by China’s Sinovac, using its local facilities, with a daily output of up to 300,000 doses. Sinovac reportedly has delivered raw materials to produce 2 million doses of the vaccine and has sent technicians to supervise the production.

Meanwhile, Oman announced a total lockdown during the upcoming three-day Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, which begins on the evening of July 19. The lockdown during the festival will include a ban on family gatherings, Eid greeting assemblies and collective celebrations. In addition, the country will remain under an evening curfew which closes all commercial activities and bans the movement of individuals and vehicles, beginning on July 16 and ending on July 31.

Israel suffered two deaths from complications of the coronavirus on Thursday, the first such fatalities in over two weeks. One of the fatalities was an unvaccinated 48-year-old man and the other was an 86-year-old man who had been vaccinated with both shots. The deaths are part of a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Israel, which has seen a rise in cases due to the delta variant. On Wednesday, the first cases of the more mutated delta plus variant also were reported.

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss ways to halt the spread of the virus Among its decisions are orders to carry out rapid coronavirus tests at the entrances to geriatric facilities and at summer camps and to increase public information campaigns emphasizing getting vaccinated, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. In an effort to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country, all travelers from abroad will be required to quarantine until receiving a negative coronavirus test result of the test taken at Ben-Gurion International Airport.


Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 3:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.


CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories314,8693,577309,2512,041
Saudi Arabia497,7737,933478,12711,713
United Arab Emirates645,6531,849623,82619,978


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.

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