Eghtesadonline: Iran broke its single-day record for new coronavirus cases on Tuesday by recording 17,400 infections, with the British variant of the virus accounting for most of the new cases.
The fresh wave of the disease pushed the national tally to 1.963 million infections and 63,500 deaths, spokeswoman of Health Ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The British strain of the coronavirus is believed to be up to 70% more contagious than the original virus, scientists say.
Masoud Mardani, a member of the National Coronavirus Headquarters, said on Tuesday the mutated virus, named B.1.1.7, has taken hold in Iran and a majority of transmissions are caused by the new strain.
“We’re witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases in most areas around the country. Hospital beds in Covid-19 wards and all ICU beds are now occupied,” Mardani said.
“One-third of the country has been placed on red alert and most regions are color-coded as ‘orange’ [high-risk].”
The Health Ministry has cancelled all elective and non-emergency surgeries until further notice to make space for Covid-19 patients in overwhelmed hospitals.
Mardani noted that one of the ways to stem the spread of the pandemic is by enforcing a 10-day quarantine in cities coded “red” or very high-risk.
Alireza Zali, the head of coronavirus operations in the capital of Tehran, also proposed a lockdown of the province ranging from 7-10 days.
“The high number of cases and the speed of transmission have made Covid-19 much more contagious than the previous waves,” he added.
Zali warned of a record-high number of hospitalizations in the province of Tehran, with 1,100 admitted to hospitals only in one day, “a warning sign for upcoming days”.
Local Vaccine Ready in 40 Days
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi announced on Tuesday that Iran’s first homegrown vaccine is set to become available to the public in 40 days.
“The first vaccine will be ready for rollout in 40 days. The second vaccine, containing killed or weakened viruses, will be accessible in 70 days,” he added.
According to the official, two other local vaccines with different technological approaches will reach mass production in four months.
Previous comments by health authorities suggest that the first local vaccine available to the public will be Iran’s jointly produced vaccine with Cuba and the second one is COV Iran Barkat, produced by the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order with a monthly output of 8-10 million, once human trials are concluded.
Iran on Monday night received over 700,000 AstraZeneca jabs under COVAX, its first shipment of vaccines from a total of 16.8 million which are to be delivered over the next few months by the World Health Organization-backed facility.
Global Covid-19 cases jumped to 132.5 million while fatalities caused by the disease rose to 2.87 million.