New Year Gatherings, Travels Spark New Surge in Covid Cases


Family gatherings and widespread travels during the Iranian New Year holidays has triggered a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in western and central regions of the country, as Iran’s daily registered cases hit a four-month high of over 11,000.
“The fourth wave of coronavirus cases is a certainty in western and central areas, and it is moving toward the east,” spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
The official linked the spike in the number of positive cases to trips, family gatherings, weddings and funerals, as well as a significant drop in observing safety protocols and wearing masks.
To slow the spread of the fourth wave, authorities banned Nature’s Day celebrations traditionally held on the 13th day of the new Iranian year (which started on March 21), when friends and families gather outdoors for the annual occasion.
Same as last year, parks were closed to the public on “Sizdah Bedar” in cities color-coded as orange and red where virus transmission rates are high.
Iran’s daily coronavirus cases hit a four-month high of over 11,000 in the final days of Norouz and overnight fatalities neared the 100 mark once again. 
The number of cities with high risks of virus transmission witnessed a tenfold surge during the holidays, going from 11 cities in the western province of Khuzestan to some 117 cities across the country.
Iran has reported 1.9 million infections so far and some 63,000 deaths, making it the worst-hit country in the Middle East.
Adherence to health protocols across Iran dropped to a five-month low of 56% during Norouz, an announcement that has always preceded the resurgence of the disease.



Vaccination Drive

A fifth shipment of Russian-developed Sputnik V arrived in Iran on Thursday, containing 100,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Customs Administration said.
Iran has also received vaccines from China and India, but the AstraZeneca vaccines that were supposed to be delivered under COVAX before the end of the year, have not yet been sent. 
COVAX is a global initiative backed by the World Health Organization, attempting to secure fair access to Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.
Iran has vaccinated 80% of its healthcare personnel who directly deal with coronavirus patients since it began receiving Covid vaccines in mid-February.
The slow vaccination drive has been criticized by the public when it was announced in Norouz that only 80,000 across the country have been immunized against the contagion, one-thousandth of the country’s population.
Laboratories across the nation have administered over 13 million diagnostic tests since the start of the outbreak. More than 1.6 million have recovered from the respiratory illness and 4,000 are currently in critical condition, hospitalized in ICU units.
Worldwide coronavirus cases crossed the 130 million mark on Friday and the death toll reached 2.83 million. 

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