Iran’s health minister has called for two-week lockdowns enforced by military forces and law enforcement to curb the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases across the country.
The request was made in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali KHAMENEI that was also widely published by Iranian media on August 1th, 2021.
“The pressure is so high that I’m worried even this plan won’t be enough, unless we reduce the exponential load of illnesses through quick preventive measures and boosting adherence to health protocols” he wrote.
The minister said the fifth wave of coronavirus infections, this time dominated by the virulent Delta variant, could become even more “catastrophic” and “irreversible” if nothing is done, because even if the country runs out of hospital beds, it will from workers.
NAMAKI said the fifth wave of coronavirus infections, this time dominated by the virulent Delta variant, could become even more “catastrophic” and “irreversible” if nothing is done, because even if the country runs out of hospital beds, it will from workers.
“Even though they are vaccinated, my colleagues are all getting sick from long periods of insomnia and stress” he said. He also warned that the country’s health system could collapse.
A number of 65 faculties and universities across the country also called for a lockdown in a letter to outgoing President Hassan ROUHANI last week.
Since February 2020, in Iran had been recorded more than 3.9 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 91.000 people have lost their lives in what has long been the Middle East’s deadliest pandemic.
The health ministry said 366 Iranians died on August 1th, 2020, while figures show virus deaths increased by 38 % from a week earlier.
The more than 32.500 newly discovered cases announced Sunday were among the highest in the world and also showed a 32 % increase from a week earlier.
The government has capital Tehran and neighboring Alborz under full lockdown for six days at the end of July, but it was mostly considered pointless as hardly any businesses were closed and travel restrictions were ignored amid low protocol enforcement.
Alireza RAISI, the spokesman for the national anti-coronavirus task force, said on Saturday that 29 of Iran’s 31 provinces are now in the grip of the Delta variant and hospital beds are filling up quickly.
A lot of cities across the country are now classified as “red” on a color-coded scale that indicates the severity of the outbreaks.
Apart from other difficulties, implementing a forced two-week lockdown across the country is sure to prove challenging for Iranian authorities as people and businesses are under immense economic pressure due to US sanctions and decades of mismanagement.
In an economy characterized by above 40 % inflation and high unemployment, many have failed to close shop.
But the last-ditch request for a strict lockdown also runs counter to the health minister’s previous rhetoric.
NAMAKI, who has often praised the Supreme Leader for his leadership during the pandemic, had last week reiterated his claim that “the world today is awed by how we have managed to both contain the disease with the help of God. produce dams, as medicines, equipment, and vaccines”.
The vaccine rollout in Iran has accelerated in the past two weeks as several million more doses have been imported after months of delays, officials said were due to US sanctions and failures by other countries to meet deadlines.
So far, jabs have been imported from China, Russia, India, Cuba, and COVAX, the global vaccine effort.
Officials say more than half a million doses of COVIran Barekat, the country’s first locally developed vaccine, have been administered nationwide so far.
Local vaccines are expected to be rolled out in greater numbers in the coming months to fill the gaps left by the lackluster imports.
Iran has several other vaccine candidates in the works, including one developed by an organization under the Defense Ministry, one under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and one being developed by the private sector.
The Barekat vaccine, which includes two doses administered to KHAMENEI, was developed by a powerful organization under the supreme leader.
Saeed NAMAKI is assistant professor of immunology at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran. He has served as minister of Health and Medical Education since January 3, 2019 where he replaced Hassan Ghazizadeh HASHEMI. He has previously served as the vice-president in Plan and Budget Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (PBO).
This article was edited using the data from Ajazeera.com, Fr24news.com, Algulf.net, Al-monitor.com, En.wikipedia.org and, Worldakkam.com.