COVID-19 has gotten a new momentum in Iran and the new variant of coronavirus has become a major concern for health experts and officials. Saeed Namaki told hospitals to be ready for more patients. Health Minister said, “In previous waves, there was 2 weeks window between increase in walk-in cases and hospitalizations, but for new variant, that window is only 72 hours.” Tehran Corona Combating Committee reported increasing number of cases, especially in younger adults. According to Dr. Tavakoli, in the past 3 months, average age of patients has decreased.
Khuzestan remains critical and hospitals report full capacity. Shortage of ICU beds continue and provincial officials express their concern that healthcare system won’t be able to manage the upcoming wave. Dr. Kalantar from Shoushtar, reported 60% increase in cases in the past 24 hours, while young adults between 25-30 compromise the majority of patients. He said, “Asymptomatic patients come to the hospital but within 48-72hours they come back with severe lung involvement, confirming these changes are definitely caused by the new UK variant. Neighboring provinces to Khuzestan report rising infections. Meanwhile, Qazvin reports 7 new cases of UK variant who were in close contacts of the 48-year-old patient died of COVID-19.
Head of Tehran Corona Combating Committee said the problem in Khuzestan will happen in Tehran, it’s just a matter of time. Dr. Zali confirmed the new variant has been in circulation for weeks. He reported 23% rise in walk-ins across Tehran which is a warning for everybody. Tehran Governor criticized loose enforcement of protocols across capital, especially at “Fajr Film Festival,” which was held during Islamic Revolution anniversary, saying they couldn’t close it down.
In the meantime, health experts believe inter-city travels must be banned and officials stop bragging about “controlling the virus.” Heshmatollah Moradzadeh, a faculty member at Arak Medical University and an epidemiologist, believes inter city trips are the most important factor in spreading the virus around the country. ICU specialist at Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran believes vaccination news has led people to believe that the situation is back to normal. Dr Hashemian said, in order for the vaccine to be effective, 70% of population must receive the jab, but according to the timeline, that may not happen until winter 2022! He added, transferring patients from other counties to capital’s hospitals is a big mistake.
Dr. Hamid Emadi, an infectious disease specialist, admits, officials’ talk and action in controlling COVID-19 are not in the same line! “They open wedding venues with big gatherings 24/7 while telling people to follow protocols. These actions signal people that everything is back to normal, which is false.” On and off lockdowns with no clear goal has been one of the main problems in the past 12 months of COVID-19 crisis in Iran.
Despite all these warnings, tourism officials report National Task Force has greenlighted traveling between provinces during Persian New Year holidays, beginning in about 5 weeks.
Saeed Namaki continues to boastfully brag about domestic coronavirus vaccines, quite the opposite of what experts advise. The Islamic Republic Health Minister said, “By mid-April we will have Pasteur Institute’s vaccine which is in collaboration with Cuba.” He claimed, this vaccine will be one of the most effective vaccines, and “we will become one of the biggest producers of vaccines in the world.” He added, 300,000 more Sputnik V is on the way, while Sinopharm, Chinese coronavirus vaccine is another source of vaccine for Iranians. Sinopharm has been called one of the most unsafe vaccines.
Ministry of Health Spokesperson announced her daily undercounted and manipulated data. Sima Sadat Lari said 83 have died of COVID-19 in Iran in the past 24 hours while 7,760 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. That’s a significant increase compared to the day before, as reflected on growth factors and graphs. With Tehran being the only center to be able to sequence the virus, number of patients with new UK variant is not known. Daily PCR tests remain in the same 55,000 range. Active cases continue to rise while critical cases’ decline hit a speed bump.
Total: 1,526,023 (+7,760)
Dead: 59,028 (+83)
Critical: 3,704 (-5)
Admitted: 162,665 (+1,370)
Tests: 10,105,080 (12.1% of the population, assuming each test was performed on 1 person)
Cover: Amin Nazari