Iran is seeing an increase in the number of people with Covid-19 symptoms visiting hospitals and clinics. This increase is relatively small and slow but, during this past weekend, Alireza Raeesi, spokesman for the National Coronavirus Taskforce, warned that the situation in some cities, including Tehran, Isfahan and Kashan, is not favorable.
None of the three domestic vaccines currently being developed in Iran will be ready for several months; and meanwhile, Iranian officials are trying to import a minimum amount of doses over the next month to vaccinate the medical staff and health workers. But they have a difficult task ahead because Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned American and British coronavirus vaccines from entering the country.
Today Dr. Minoo Mohraz, a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce’s Scientific Committee, which is also responsible for the evaluation of domestic vaccines under development, announced that Iran would soon import a “recombinant” vaccine made in Sweden. She said that this vaccine has been approved by the Islamic Republic’s health authorities and emphasized that it is neither the Moderna vaccine from the United States, nor Cuba’s vaccine as the later had yet to finish its final clinical trials.
First, said Dr. Mohraz, medical workers would be vaccinated and, after them, those over 70, people suffering from diabetes and heart and lung diseases, and then individuals with other underlying conditions.
Meanwhile, regarding the widely-reported variants of the virus found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and elsewhere, Dr. Mohraz said: “The genetic mutations of coronavirus are worrisome and we fear that, perhaps, existing vaccines might not be effective on variants of coronavirus.” She added that “We must protect ourselves until everybody is vaccinated and we have dealt with further mutations of this virus. But now there are more gatherings, wedding halls have become active and people sit together and eat without wearing masks. If this situation continues we will have a fourth surge” by mid-February.
Hossein Ali Shahriari, chairman of parliament’s Health Committee, reported that Iran would receive 16.8 million doses of vaccine from COVAX in February. (COVIX is an initiative by the World Health Organization and an alliance by many countries around the world to provide equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.) Shahriari said that Iran has paid $52 million for these vaccine doses. He reminded the public that Supreme Leader Khamenei has banned imports of American, English and French vaccines and assured them that such vaccines are not among those that Iran will get from COVAX.
Currently 18 Iranian cities are in an orange state of alert, 154 are on yellow alert and 276 are blue, announced Dr. Sima Sadat Lari, the Health Ministry’s spokeswoman. The alert status of cities in Iran is determined every Saturday at the weekly meeting of the National Coronavirus Taskforce, based on the previous week’s data.
In the past 24 hours approximately 4,100 outpatients with coronavirus symptoms visited treatment centers in Tehran, an increase of one percent compared to a week earlier, reported Dr. Alireza Zali, director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. “In recent months we have faced a challenge in Tehran,” he said. “Usually, the number of outpatients is mostly from those who visit government hospitals and medical centers whereas, in Tehran, over 80 percent go to private clinics. As a result, they might not be included in our statistics and the actual number of outpatients may be much higher than the figures announced by us.”
Currently, 1,936 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized in Tehran province and the number of patients in ICUs has also increased between half a percent to one percent compared to the previous week. Dr. Zali also reported that currently nine percent of rapid tests conducted in Tehran are positive while PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests return around 20 percent positive.
On January 25, in protest over unpaid wages, a group of nurses gathered at the campus of Shiraz Central Hospital in the capital of Fars province. They say the Ministry of Labor has issued orders for an increase in the salaries of health workers but, unfortunately, the hospital has ignored the orders.
Medical workers and especially nurses carry the greatest load in fighting Covid-19. “Under these conditions even if they pay the nurses twice what they pay now it would [still] be inadequate,” said a nurse. “Nurses are putting their lives on the line to safeguard people’s health.”
In Khuzestan, of the 328 babies born to mothers infected with coronavirus, 22 tested positive and three died, reported Dr. Mohammad Alavi, vice president of Ahvaz Jondishapur University of Medical Sciences. According to him, 48,249 expecting mothers have been hospitalized in Khuzestan since the coronavirus outbreak, of whom 727 were infected with Covid-19, and seven of whom died.
In Alborz, three other patients lost their lives to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll in the province since the outbreak to 2,648, reported Dr. Mohammad Fathi, president of Alborz University of Medical Sciences. In the same 24 hours, 42 new patients with Covid-19 symptoms were hospitalized in the province and currently 287 confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases are hospitalized there.
According to Nour Mohammad Fardi, deputy governor of Alborz for political, security and social affairs, a traffic curfew between 9pm to 4am still remains in effect “in all cities and across the country.” He said that this curfew is aimed at curbing nighttime gatherings that are the source of 51 percent of coronavirus infections.
Gilan, like the two other northern provinces of Mazandaran and Golestan, is still in a critical situation. In the past 24 hours, 108 new patients with coronavirus symptoms were hospitalized in Gilan, bringing the total number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in the province to 470, reported Dr. Masoud Nowroozi, vice president of Gilan University of Medical Sciences. He said that, as of now, 90 percent of the population of Gilan, or 2,063,156 individuals, have been “screened” for coronavirus symptoms. It must be noted that this screening is not the same as testing or a medical examination and is carried out merely through visits to households.
In Kermanshah, 39 new patients suspected of Covid-19 infections were hospitalized, bringing the total number of hospitalizations in the province to 159, reported Mehdi Mohammadi, spokesman for Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. He said that, in the same 24 hours, two other Covid-19 patients died and the total death toll in the province now stands at 1,448 since the start of the pandemic. As of now, 41,748 Covid-19 patients have been identified in Kermanshah and 26,209 of them have been hospitalized, he reported.
Iran’s Latest Coronavirus Statistics
In her daily briefing for January 25, health ministry’s spokeswoman Dr. Sima Sadat Lari announced the official coronavirus statistics for the past 24 hours: