EghtesadOnline: A health official warned that the coronavirus pandemic will pick up again in autumn, as Iran registers a decline in the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths.
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi on Thursday said based on the behavior of the coronavirus, “we are expecting a further spread of the virus again in autumn and we predict that a peak in influenza cases will also happen concurrently”, ISNA reported.
According to Financial Tribune, the official emphasized that Iran’s main strategy to tackle the widespread outbreak is through the Smart Distancing Initiative, adding that “we are fighting with both sanctions and the coronavirus. We will overcome them both”.
Due to the unilateral US sanctions weakening Iran’s economy in the past two years, Iran’s response to the pandemic has been a mix of loose quarantine measures and a gradual reopening of low-risk businesses.
Under the initiative, the government has allowed low-risk businesses to resume operations if they commit to comply with health protocols devised by the Health Ministry.
Iran’s caseload of COVID-19 patients has risen to 79,494 as of Friday, up by 1,499 a day earlier. Deaths caused by the novel virus increased by 89, bringing the national total to 4,958, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Despite low-risk businesses resuming economic activities across the country, Iran has maintained its daily downtrend of confirmed cases and deaths in the past few days.
Jahanpour added, “So far, 54,064 patients have recovered and 3,563 are in critical condition.”
Iran has conducted 319,879 coronavirus tests since Feb. 20 when two deaths due to the contagion were first reported in the central city of Qom.
Outcome of Smart Distancing
Harirchi on Friday explained that the impact of the Smart Distancing Initiative will become apparent in the coming days and weeks.
“After businesses reopen, its impact on the number of patients will be witnessed in five days, on hospitalized cases in 15 days and on the death rate in a month,” he added.
According to the official, Iran ranks 10th in the number of deaths from among countries hit by the respiratory illness with 57 deaths per million.
“Iran has predicted the rate of infections to decline further by late May but it will not become zero,” Harirchi said.
“Right now, the strategy of Iran and many other countries is to lower COVID-19 cases and deaths until a vaccine or a treatment is made available.”
To this end, Harirchi said they will not allow congested shopping centers to reopen to prevent the viral transmission.
The health official stressed that public transportation is responsible for one-fourth of all coronavirus transmissions. Next on the list are schools (11%), universities (7%) and Friday prayers (2%).
“Schools and universities, with a population of 20 million, are some of the most dangerous places for the spread of the infection,” he said.
Schools and universities remain closed in Iran. Last week, Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei said the coronavirus taskforce will make a decision on schools and universities on Sunday.