More Iranian cities in ‘red’ as Rouhani fears ‘fifth wave’ linked to Delta variant
Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday expressed fear that the country will be hit by a new wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) due to an outbreak of the Delta variant. Iran has reported more than 3.2 million Covid-19 cases and over 84,000 related deaths, according to official figures, overwhelming the health infrastructure of the Islamic republic.
"It is feared that we are on the way to a fifth wave throughout the country," Rouhani told a meeting of Iran's anti-virus taskforce.
The Iranian health ministry has classified the capital and nine other cities in Tehran province as “red”, the highest category on the country’s coronavirus risk scale. The southern and southeastern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan have also been classified as "red".
The outgoing president warned the public to be careful as "the Delta variant has spread" in southern provinces. According to the health ministry, only 1.7 million people in Iran have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, leaving the country highly vulnerable to new coronavirus waves driven by more deadly and transmissible variants.
"God willing, the situation will improve in terms of vaccinations from next week," Rouhani said.
Iran is administering two locally produced vaccines under emergency use authorization as the country’s vaccination procurement has been hit by the sanctions imposed by the United States. The US sanctions have made it difficult for Iran, which is struggling to import vaccines for its population, to transfer money to foreign firms.
On Friday, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the world is witnessing a very “dangerous period” as the Delta variant continues to evolve and mutate. The highly transmissible Delta variant, first detected in India, is rapidly spreading in many countries, and the WHO has warned about the scenes of hospitals overflowing with patients in countries with low vaccination coverage.
(With agency inputs)