EghtesadOnline: Health Minister Bahram Einollahi has placed all healthcare providers on alert in an effort to contain the fast-spreading Omicron subvariants that were identified in the country last week.
Health Minister Bahram Einollahi has placed all healthcare providers on alert in an effort to contain the fast-spreading Omicron subvariants that were identified in the country last week.
“Due to the spread of the new Omicron variants, healthcare personnel are on alert and borders are being properly monitored,” Einollahi was quoted as saying by IRNA on the sidelines of the National Health Market event at the Razi International Conference Center in Tehran.
He stated, “Currently borders are being carefully monitored and incoming travelers are being screened more strictly.”
On Saturday, President Ebrahim Raisi ordered his administration to keep track of border checkpoints to minimize the entry of the virus.
Many Western and East Asian nations have been grappling with highly transmissible offshoots of Omicron for the past few months, reporting a marked increase in infection rates and hospitalizations.
Deputy Health Minister Hossein Farshidi said that the new wave had already hit Iran and that it would peak within the next four to six weeks.
While Health Ministry officials had by last week only detected two subvariants of Omicron, XBB and BQ.1, Farshidi said that a third, BA.2, had been added to the mix.
“When we examine the speed at which BA.5 became dominant in Europe, we see that with the addition of BQ.1, the disease’s transmission rates accelerated,” Farshidi said.
He explained that XBB’s transmission speed was five times higher than Delta.
The Delta variant was first identified in India in late 2020 and had spread to over 170 countries by November 2021.
According to Farshidi, symptoms of the new variants, especially the XBB, had switched from the classic cough and fever to digestive problems, fatigue and headaches.
A senior member of the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Mohammad Reza Sohrabi, urged stringent health protocols to control the new wave.
“The public should make more efforts to observe safety measures to prevent contracting respiratory illnesses like the flu and Covid,” he said.
He noted that people needed to avoid gathering in enclosed spaces and public venues as much as possible. He also stressed the necessity of proper ventilation as one of the means to control the spread of the contagion.
Wearing facemasks was especially essential in crowded locations such as schools and universities, Sohrabi added.
Many health authorities have lamented the sharp drop in facemask wearing and the public disregard for health protocols.
Sohrabi also advised the public to stick to a healthy diet and exercise to boost their immunity levels.
For the past few months, Iran has seen relatively low numbers of coronavirus infections and mortalities while nations such as Japan, China and the United States registered increasing case numbers.
With the identification of the new Omicron variants, health experts are encouraging the public to receive booster shots as fast as possible. The majority of the population have been given the two standard Covid doses but many have neglected booster shots.
According to Einollahi, the Health Ministry has a stockpile of 50 million Covid vaccines.