By Pouyan Khoshhal
February 25, 2021
Reports have continued to come in from cities across Iran regarding infection rates of the new and more contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom. But health officials say these reports are unreliable because only Tehran’s Pasteur Institute has the capability to confirm whether an infection is caused by the original virus or the variant – and that other cities must send samples to the Pasteur Institute for testing.
Emergency restrictions have meanwhile been announced in the cities of the hard-hit province of Khuzestan. The government has yet to agree to a two-week lockdown of the province even though the provincial governor says that a total quarantine is “likely.”
Infections Rise among the Very Young and the Very Old
According to official figures, the number of fatalities from the coronavirus variant in Tehran has reached three.
Age groups under 10 and over 70 have been categorized as “high-risk groups,” announced Dr. Alireza Zali, director of Tehran Coronavirus Taskforce. This time last year, he said, less than one percent of children under 10 were infected. Now the figures is 11 percent. The rate of infections among the over-80 age group, meanwhile, was 7.4 percent a year ago; now it has gone up to 12 percent. The rate of infections in the 40-70 has fallen to 18 percent.
In Tehran province, in the past 24 hours, 280 new Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in common wards and 92 were hospitalized in ICUs, reported Dr. Zali. During the same time period, 345 Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospitals.
Proposal for More Restrictions in Tehran
Infections among people under 20 years of age has increased in the past month from 5.2 percent to 9.1 percent, reported Anooshirvan Mohseni Bandpey, Governor of Tehran province. He said a proposal for more restrictions such as banning flights from European countries and heavier fines for violating health guidelines and restrictions had been sent to the National Coronavirus Taskforce. He also announced that all gatherings to celebrate the Iranian new year on March 21 are banned.
Bandpey had earlier issued similar warnings against gatherings during religious holidays known as Fatimiyya and marches to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on February 10 although the warnings had been mostly ignored.
Vaccines for the Disabled
Mohammad Nafariyeh, vice president of the National Welfare Organization, announced that disabled Iranians are among the groups that have priority for vaccinations and promised that 20,000 doses will be allocated for the vaccination of the disabled living in care facilities. Nafariyeh added that medical staff and health workers have the first priority for vaccinations; after them, the disabled, the elderly and veterans who had been injured during the Iran-Iraq War.
The vaccination of 10,000 disabled people will start before the spring, Nafariyeh said. “Other groups covered by the Welfare Organization include the elderly and the disabled who live at home,” he said. “They have second priority and their vaccinations will begin after the inoculation of the disabled who live in care homes.”
A Second Pregnant Nurse Dies
Faranak Davoudi, a nurse in Alborz province who was seven months pregnant, has died from Covid-19. Davoudi’s baby was saved by caesarean section after she had become ill. Earlier, on February 14, another pregnant nurse had died from Covid-19 though her baby was also saved by caesarean section.
According to official figures, so far eight members of the medical staff in Alborz have lost their lives to Covid-19.
Damage worth $5.2 billion to Iran’s Tourism Industry
The tourism industry in Iran has suffered $5.2 billion in losses since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, said Tourism Minister Ali Asghar Mounesan. “We hope that widespread vaccinations will bring prosperity to all branches of tourism, such as agro-tourism, ecotourism, and nature tourism,” he said. “Over 1.5 million jobs have been lost in the tourism sector of Iran due to Covid-19,” he had previously reported, in December of last year. “Many of the people engaged in tourism industry are now unemployed or are staying at home”.