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EghtesadOnline: The Health Ministry has officially announced the arrival of the 8th wave of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by new offshoots of Omicron, XBB, BQ.1 and BA.2.

Deputy Health Minister Saeed Karimi stated that all medical facilities have been placed on alert in spite of optimistic estimates that the new wave of the Covid will be milder than previous ones.

“The eighth Covid wave will likely be less severe than previous ones, but we won’t be careless. Hospitals are on high alert,” Karimi was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Roughly 1% of all hospital beds have been allocated to Covid patients, Karimi said, but he did not elaborate whether the beds were currently in use.

The Health Ministry has officially announced the arrival of the 8th wave of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by new offshoots of Omicron, XBB, BQ.1 and BA.2.

The wave is expected to peak before mid-March.

“The fact is, Covid infections are on the rise in Iran,” a member of the national science committee against the coronavirus, Hamid Emadi, said.

He added, “Infections and hospitalizations have drastically declined in the past few months but we’re clearly seeing an increase in the last two weeks.”

On Saturday, the Health Ministry logged 107 new patients and two more coronavirus-related mortalities.

It usually takes two to three weeks before a spike in the number of patients shows its impact on daily deaths rates.

To tackle the fresh wave of cases, officials are encouraging the public to administer booster doses as soon as possible.

In the past 24 hours, some 7,890 new vaccine shots were given. Anyone over the age of 18 who has received vaccination more than six months ago is eligible for another shot.

Uptick in ‘Yellow’ Cities

According to the Health Ministry’s weekly update of its color-coded system to rank transmission rates in cities across Iran, the number of safe “blue” cities have declined, giving rise to “yellow” cities.

Blue cities saw a decline from 382 to 340 while yellow cities, which stand for relatively dangerous zones, rose from last week’s 62 to 101.

Moreover, dangerous “orange cities” increased by three to a total of seven. None of the cities throughout the country have been labeled as highly dangerous “red” as of yet.

Experts have leveled criticism at the color-code system since it was established, saying it was an imprecise method to evaluate the spread of the contagion.

Officially announced Covid figures have failed to reflect the reality of the disease on the ground.

Emadi pointed out, “When hospitalization rates grow in a society, it means the number of infected individuals is ten times higher than that figure.”

He explained that many could be exhibiting symptoms of the common cold or show no symptoms at all, which could make identification complicated.

“Due to the restrictions and shortages in the country, we cannot take PCR tests from all possible coronavirus cases,” Emadi said, noting that a lack of screening meant they could not also track new strains.

The new-found subvariants of Omicron in Iran were detected months ago in European and East Asian nations.

COVID 19 COVID Covid Wave