The Iranian Government on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 declared a two-day holiday for government workers and banks nationwide as searing temperatures sweep across the country, state media reported.
The decision came after the meteorological office forecast temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in many cities and hovering around 50 degrees Celsius in the South West.
State broadcaster IRIB said that many cities including the provinces of Ilam, Bushehr and Khuzestan have seen temperatures rise above 45 degrees Celsius in recent days.
“The cabinet agreed to the health ministry proposal to declare Wednesday August 2 and Thursday August 3, 2023 public holidays all over the country to protect public health,” the official IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi as saying.
IRNA said that the decision was taken because of what it described as an “unprecedented” heat wave across the country.
According to IRIB, Dehloran city in western Iran recorded the highest temperature of 50 degrees Celsius in Iran over the past 24 hours.
It added that temperatures were expected to rise in the north as well, including the city of Ardabil as well as at the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.
The Health Ministry also warned of the risks of heatstroke from overexposure to the sun and urged people to stay indoors between 10:00am and 4:00 pm.
Health Ministry Spokesman Pedram Pakain described the number of heat-related illnesses in recent days as “alarming.”
In June 2023, Iran changed summer working hours for government employees who now start work earlier in order to save electricity in offices when temperatures peak.
The south Eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan has been among the most affected area hit by the heatwave.
Around 1,000 people have received hospital treatment there in recent days because of rising temperatures and dust storms, IRNA said.
The region has long faced severe water shortages, which triggered protests on Monday, July 31, 2023 over an upstream dam in neighboring Afghanistan restricting water flow, the Tasnim news agency said.
Iran has a population of more than 85 million people is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and the rise in global temperatures.
Like nearby countries, it has suffered extreme dry spells and heat waves for years which are expected to worsen as climate change continues.
It has also endured repeated droughts as well as regular flooding a phenomenon made worse when torrential rain falls on sun-baked earth.