Iran sees 2nd straight day of record single-day spike in Covid-19 cases with 34,900 new infections
Iran recorded over 34,900 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, setting the nation's single-day record for cases as vaccinations lag and public complacency deepens.
The previous record of 31,814 infections had been set only a day earlier, providing a sense of how quickly Iran's latest surge, fuelled by the contagious delta variant, is mounting. Health authorities recorded 357 Covid-19 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 89,479 – the highest in the Middle East.
The alarming spread of the variant prompted new anti-virus restrictions last week. The government ordered the closure of state offices, public places and non-essential businesses in the capital of Tehran. But as with previous government measures, the lockdown looked little like a lockdown. Tehran's malls and markets were busy as usual and workers crowded offices and metro stations.
Iranian authorities have avoided imposing heavy-handed rules on a population that can little afford to bear them. The country, which has suffered the worst virus outbreak in the region, is reeling from a series of crises – tough US sanctions, global isolation, a heat wave, the worst blackouts in recent memory and ongoing protests over water shortage in the southwest.
Now, health officials warn that hospitals in the capital are overwhelmed with breathless Covid patients too numerous to handle. Fewer than 3 per cent of Iranians have been fully vaccinated in the sanctions-hit country. Many front-line medical workers have been vaccinated with Iran's locally produced shots or the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm vaccine that may be less effective than other inoculations.
Iranian government announced that its homemade vaccine provides 85 per cent protection from the coronavirus, without disclosing data or details. Iran also imports Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, as well as the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot through the United Nations-backed COVAX program.