1058 GMT April 21, 2021
The Iranian health minister said his ministry is absolutely against intercity travel during the Norouz holidays, annually celebrated during March 21-April 2 to mark the arrival of the New Year in Iran, as the period is needed to be used for the revival of the country’s worn out medical staff.
Speaking on Friday, Saeid Namaki described as extremely worrying the unrestrained travel, which leads to the overcrowding of the roads and public places, and the rapid spread of the mutated coronavirus strains, IRNA reported.
The minister regretted that the country’s medical staff is weakening day by day, stressing intercity travel is the most important factor and very effective in the spread of the UK strain of the virus.
Namaki said each month, 1,000 beds (a total of 11,000) are added to the country’s hospital capacity, which has been unprecedented in Iran’s history.
Amid the outbreak of the pandemic, Iran managed to increase the number of ICU beds at its hospitals by 2,500 in less than 45 days, he noted, adding given the critical condition in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan in terms of the coronavirus spread, 70 new beds are being added to the province’s hospital capacity.
Coronavirus tests, casualties
In an address to a press conference on Friday, the Health Ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat-Lari put at over 11.15 million the number of coronavirus diagnostic tests carried out in Iran since the outbreak of the pandemic in late February 2020.
Lari said the COVID-19 death toll in the country stands at 60,512, adding the disease took the lives of 81 patients over the past 24 hours.
At least 1,428,008 patients have so far either recovered from the COVID-19 disease or been discharged from hospitals across the country, she added.
The spokeswoman also noted that the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus infection in Iran surpassed 1,673,400 following the detection of 8,367 new cases since Thursday noon.
Among those currently undergoing treatment in the country’s medical centers, 3,767 patients are in critical condition, Lari noted.
The number of people infected with the coronavirus across the world has surpassed 116.35 million, with the death toll exceeding 2.58 million.
Third vaccine batch received
On Thursday, Iran received the third batch of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, said the deputy chairman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), Mehrdad Jamali, according to Fars News Agency.
He added the batch would be delivered to the health ministry officials to be sent to vaccination centers across the country.
The new batch contains 200,000 doses of Sputnik-V, the jab developed by Russia and approved in Iran for the vaccination of the health staff and vulnerable groups.
Iran received the first shipment of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on February 6. The country is expected to receive nearly four million doses of vaccine from the COVAX program.
Iran started nationwide COVID-19 vaccination on February 9 using the Sputnik V vaccine.
On Wednesday, Namaki expressed hope that the country would complete vaccination of high-risk and vulnerable groups against the coronavirus by March 20, 2021.
He added 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were imported a few days ago, noting that the country will receive another 1.2 million doses by March 20, IRNA reported.
Warning the country’s people against the mutated strains of the virus, the minister said they should take the new variants very seriously as they are very dangerous.