Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has expressed fear that Iran will be hit by a new wave of Covid-19 due to an outbreak of the Delta variant in the most affected country in the Middle East.
“It is feared that we are on the way to a fifth wave across the country,” Rouhani told a meeting of Iran’s anti-virus working group, warning the public to be careful as the Delta variant had entered the country from the south and the south. this.
Covid-19 has killed more than 84,000 people from more than 3.2 million infections in Iran, according to official figures that authorities admit they do not account for all cases.
Delta, now present in at least 85 countries, is the most contagious of all the Covid-19 variants identified so far.
The Islamic republic confirmed three cases of the Delta variant on May 5 in the central province of Qom.
Iran’s Health Ministry has classified the capital Tehran and nine other cities in Tehran province as “red,” the highest category on the coronavirus risk scale for Iran.
The southern and southeastern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan are also now classified as “red”.
In red zones, all stores must be closed except those considered essential, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
Authorities in the Sistan-Baluchistan province said on Wednesday that they had closed travel across the border with Pakistan until further notice, although the transport of goods by road would be allowed.
On Saturday, Alireza Raisi, spokesman for the anti-virus working group, called for “strict controls of the country’s borders,” especially on the eastern side of Iran.
Choked by US sanctions that have made it difficult to transfer money to foreign companies, Iran says it is struggling to import vaccines for its population of 83 million.
More than 4.4 million people have received a first dose of the Covid vaccine in Iran, while only 1.7 million have received the two necessary injections, the Health Ministry says.
“God willing, the situation will improve in terms of vaccinations starting next week,” Rouhani said.
Iranian authorities have approved the emergency use of two locally produced vaccines.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei received the first dose of one on June 25, his office announced on Twitter.
“We have to follow exactly all the rules that we have issued for the red zones” and other areas affected by the virus, Rouhani said, emphasizing that “if the guidelines are questioned or not followed, we will have a problem.”
The outgoing Rouhani administration has come under fire for its handling of the pandemic.
Rouhani, a moderate, is in the final weeks of his presidency having served the maximum of two consecutive terms.
He will be replaced in August by the ultra-conservative cleric and former head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi.