Mask-clad Iranians gather in a mosque in the capital, Tehran, to perform the Friday prayers on Oct. 22, 2021. (AFP)

January 13, 2022

The Omicron Covid-19 variant is spreading at a rapid pace in the cities of Ahvaz and Qom, local health officials have warned.

“The number of patients with coronavirus in the east has increased fivefold in the past week,” Amrollah Mardani, director of the East Ahvaz Health Center, told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Tuesday, January 11, adding that the spike in such a short period of time was linked to the Omicron variant.

At the same time, infectious diseases expert Reza Nafar based in Qom province reported that up to the previous week the number of people with Omicron was low in Qom, but that it had grown in recent days and was still rising.

Nafar confirmed that only about 10 percent of Qom province citizens had been fully vaccinated and that 30 percent had not even received the first dose. He blamed what he described as the “very low” vaccination rate for the rampant spread of Omicron. The variant continues to spread across the globe, though fully-vaccinated people have tended to suffer milder symptoms.

Mehrdad Babaei, the spokesperson for the Anti-Coronavirus Headquarters for Alborz province, said about 700 people a day were reporting to medical centers in the province, though the majority of them did not need hospitalization. He said that, prior to the Omicron variant’s spread, the province had seen steady decreases in the number of people with the virus.

Health minister Bahram Einollahi called on people to get the vaccine booster. “We do not want to see another wave of infection, hospitalization and death in the country,” he said.

Einollahi’s remarks followed those by Payam Tabarsi, a member of the National Coronavirus Scientific Committee, who told Iranian media:”we are seriously threatened by the Omicron variant of coronavirus.”

He said the next two to three weeks were critical. ”If we are not careful, we will have a new infection peak, which will probably be a heavy wave,” he warned.

According to the Minister of Health, about 90 percent of the target population had received the first dose of the vaccine and about 80 percent had received the second. But the total number of people to have received the third dose of the vaccine, or booster, sits at 11 million, a low figure considering the number of people eligible for the vaccine in Iran.

Einollahi reminded the public that the booster was the best way of securing protection against the Omicron variant, though imposing further restrictions across the population was also an option.

Iran Wire

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.