FILE PHOTO: People walk in front of closed shops in Tehran, Iran. REUTERS./

DUBAI, July 20 (Reuters) Iran imposed a one-week lockdown in the capital and a nearby province on Tuesday as daily COVID-19 caseloads hit a record high amid a fifth wave of the pandemic, state television reported.

The lockdown affects Tehran and Alborz provinces, with only essential businesses allowed to stay open. Most offices, theatres and sports facilities must shut down in an effort to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the TV said.

Iran, the epicentre of the pandemic in the Middle East, reported 27,444 new cases on Tuesday, breaking the earlier record of 25,582 on April 14. Deaths rose by 250 to 87,624.

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(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Angus MacSwan)