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EghtesadOnline: The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, has spread across Iran and triggered a jump in cases and hospitalizations, the National Coronavirus Headquarters announced.

NHC Spokesman Alireza Raeisi said on Saturday that the Delta variant had spread to every part of the country, “given the highly infectious nature of this virus, it can raise cases and hospitalizations,” ISNA reported.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Friday that the Delta variant had spread to nearly 100 countries, adding that the strain was quickly becoming dominant in many nations.

He said, “We are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic… No country is out of the woods yet.”

At least 92 cities across Iran, including the capital Tehran, have been placed on red alert and 183 cities have been color-coded as orange.

Raeisi noted that restrictions in cities coded as red need to be reinstated. “At most 30% of government employees are allowed in the workplace. The rest must work remotely.”

All non-essential businesses are required to close down and travel to and from provinces coded as red and orange is banned.

During a meeting of the NCH on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani said recent election campaigns, especially those held for city council elections, alongside some other occasions for social gathering, had triggered the spike in Covid cases.  

“We’re in a unique coronavirus situation...We’re on our way to see an increase in cases,” the president said, noting that following health protocols and vaccination could curb the fifth wave of the outbreak.

So far, 4.453 million people have receive the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 1.871 million have been fully vaccinated, bringing the total number of shots administered to 6.324 million.

The Health Ministry announced that vaccine rollout will increase in the coming weeks to immunize all vulnerable groups against the new mutation. 


Sistan-Baluchestan in Crisis 

Raeisi said that the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan was the worst-hit region throughout the country and the Delta variant had swept across the whole area.

Raeisi noted that they are coordinating with local officials to send the necessary equipment to the poverty-stricken province.

He also urged security forces to closely monitor southeastern borders to prevent more people infected with the mutated virus from entering Iran.

Atefeh Abedini, a senior member of the NCH, pointed out that locals had shown little interest in getting vaccinated against Covid-19 or observing safety measures, one of the reasons for the resurgence of the disease in the area.

A lawmaker from the province, Moeenodin Saeedi, said last week that Sistan-Baluchestan’s situation was “beyond tragic” and that the region faced a “human catastrophe”.

The Health Ministry logged some 111 fatalities and 8,300 positive cases on Saturday, taking the national death toll to 84,627 and the case tally to 3.241 million.

Countries throughout the world have registered 183.9 million infections and 3.98 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.


Iran COVID-19 Delta Variant