(Reuters) – Travellers to Iran from Europe will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks after testing negative upon arrival, a health official said on Saturday.

Travellers from other regions, including neighbouring countries, will have to have tested negative before arrival in the country, Alireza Raisi, spokesman for the national coronavirus task force, said on state TV.

Raisi said travellers arriving from Europe should be holding negative test results, will be tested again and will have to self-quarantine even if their test is negative, state media reported.

Previously, people coming from Europe were only required to test negative.

He did not say when exactly the new measures will go into effect, saying only “from now on.”

Meanwhile, health officials said the Iranian-manufactured Barekat vaccine was found effective against the highly contagious coronavirus variant that emerged in Britain. 

“Tests conducted on the blood plasma of three volunteers of ‘COVIran Barekat’ vaccine completely neutralized the mutated coronavirus,” Hassan Jalili, who is in charge of the team that produces the local vaccine, told state TV.

Iran launched human trials of its first domestic vaccine candidate late last month, saying this could help it defeat the pandemic despite U.S. sanctions that affect its ability to import vaccines.

It has also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and plans to both import it and produce it.

The country has recorded more than 1.4 million cases and over 57,800 deaths, according to government data, but there has been a decline in new infections in recent weeks.

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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