Saeed Namaki strongly plead with people not to go on vacation even if traveling is allowed! Health Minister said the new UK variant of coronavirus is extremely dangerous, spreads faster and kills more. He praised himself and Basij for helping to contain the virus while saying Khuzestan is in a dreadful situation. He admitted 57% of positive tests in Khuzestan are of the UK variant. Namaki played the role of the victim and Khamenei a savior, saying as Health Minister he had to kiss hands and feet of other officials to convince them ban all travels. He warned people if they travel, they will regret it, saying “let’s not have another Khuzestan.”
Persian New Year (March 21) and its holidays are upon us. Traditionally, people start their vacations days before. As usual, at critical times, Islamic Republic officials create a chaotic scene to confuse people deliberately so later on can blame everything on them. The authorities say by March 15 new “colors” of cities will be announced, determining traveling to what cities is forbidden, because according to National Task Force, traveing to/from “red and orange” cities is prohibited. However, there is an exception for “necessary trips” with negative test results. According to National Task Force Spokesman, the test takers must be trained to take samples properly otherwise the results are useless! Yesterday, a member of the Task Force had admitted the high rate of false negatives for rapid tests used for travelers is a major problem.
In the meantime, some provinces such as Hormozgan announced traveling to the province is not allowed unless negative test is shown at the borders. National Task Force has allowed traveling with buses, planes and trains, while health experts warn about this practice as it would spread the virus. Dr Younesian, an epidemiologist, believes yellow and blue cities are in more risk and traveling should be forbidden altogether.
Khuzestan continues to struggle with overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, shortage of healthcare staff and beds. Ahvaz officials ask residents to self-quarantine for the next two weeks. According to Ahvaz Medical University, 70 healthcare staff working in ER have contracted coronavirus so far. Shoushtar Medical College reported 40-50% positivity rate for PCR tests in the region, predicting the number of critical cases would double in the next 2 weeks. Dr. Kalantar said hospitalizations have doubled last week compared to the week before, ICU beds are almost full and situation is horrifying.
While Iran is far behind its neighbors in vaccinating Iranians, a member of National Task Force predicted that by September general population could use domestic coronavirus vaccines. Ghane’ei also said the Cuban vaccine’s third phase which was supposed to begin in Iran in early March, is postponed to April. On the other hand, Mokhber, head of “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order,” responsible for COVIran Barekat vaccine said he has good news for Iranians by next month! He claimed the general population’s vaccination will begin in June.
Sima Sadat Lari presented her daily manipulated figures, even though they have been criticized by Iran Medical Board officials to be at least 3-4 times higher. Ministry of Health Spokesperson announced 81 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours in Iran while 8,554 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Daily PCR tests reached 64,000 after 13 months of COVID-19 epidemic in Iran. Critical and active cases continue to rise, as seen on the graphs. Color of counties are not announced for the 4th day in a row, probably they will not be mentioned until March 15.
Total: 1,706,559 (+8,554)
Dead: 60,867 (+81)
Critical: 3,804 (+9)
Admitted: 188,933 (+1,064)
Tests: 11,402,162 (13.7% of the population, assuming each test was performed on 1 person)
Cover: Maryam Kamyab