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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for stricter COVID-19 border controls, noting another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may be on the way in the country.

“More attention must be paid to foreign entries, especially from countries infected with new variants of the virus,” he said in a meeting of the national anti-COVID-19 headquarters in Tehran, official news agency IRNA reported.

Rouhani stressed the need that all local officials and members of the Basij, a volunteer force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, engage in the monitoring of individuals coming from abroad, who must stay in quarantine when necessary according to Iran’s protocols.

The Iranian president called on a general effort to prevent a new wave of the outbreak before Nowruz, the Iranian new year, given the social and economic importance of the yearly celebrations.

Also on Saturday, the southwestern province of Khuzestan was declared on red alert over the spread of the virus, after several weeks without any province on red alert.

Even if vaccination against COVID-19 is successful, Rouhani further said, people should still be careful and maintain the current lifestyle for at least a year.

The spokesman for the headquarters, Alireza Raisi, said that the number of daily deaths is decreasing in Iran, but warned about the increase in cases in Khuzestan and northwestern province of West Azerbaijan, state TV reported.

The spokeswoman for Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Sima Sadat Lari, said that 74 new deaths related to the coronavirus were registered in the country between Friday and Saturday, pushing the death toll to 58,883, said the ministry’s official website.

The total number of COVID-19 infections confirmed so far in Iran is 1,510,873, after 7,120 new cases were detected in the past 24 hours, she added.

The Iranian health ministry started the COVID-19 vaccination on Tuesday using Russian vaccine Sputnik V.

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