By Ruslan Rehimov
BAKU (AA) - As the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Azerbaijan has been increasing, the country decided to take more strict measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 165. The death toll stands at three while 15 people have recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
As part of its measures to curb the spread of the virus, Baku shut its southern border with Iran -- the source of the country's first case -- until April 20. Now, the country has shut all land borders with its neighbors.
Education and related activities have been suspended through April 19.
Measures were tightened after the first death was reported on March 12. All cultural and sports activities were postponed amid the outbreak. Cinemas, museums, theaters, entertainment venues, and sports halls were temporarily closed and weddings banned.
Azerbaijanis also could not celebrate the Nowruz Festival, which marks the first day of spring, as they usually would.
Parliament also approved legal regulations to punish those who violated the rules of hygiene and quarantine.
According to a new regulation, which will be effective on Sunday, the Baku subway will be operational from 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. [0300GMT to 0500GMT] and 5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. [1100GMT to 1600GMT], and all workplaces except markets and pharmacies have been closed.
Also, restaurants and cafes are now only allowed to offer takeaway services. Parks and similar recreational areas will be closed as of Sunday.
Most people use masks when they go out onto the streets, which have been disinfected.
Azerbaijan has evacuated over 10,000 of its nationals from abroad within the last month, with mandatory quarantine procedures for those arriving in the last two weeks.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December, the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 177 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
More than 607,900 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 28,100 and more than 131,800 recoveries.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar