1200 GMT April 21, 2021
The Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that Iran’s daily COVID-19 infections reached an all-time record high of over 20,000 within the past 24 hours, as the death toll from the disease stood at 193.
Providing the latest statistics on the country’s coronavirus infections, the Health Ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari noted that the total number of people testing positive for the coronavirus surpassed 1,984,300 after the detection of 20,954 new cases since yesterday, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Lari added the pandemic has claimed 193 lives in Iran over the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll in Iran to 63,699.
More than 1,675,800 patients have so far either recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across Iran, she said.
Among those currently undergoing treatment in the country, 4,177 are in critical conditions, the spokeswoman regretted.
She noted that more than 13.3 million coronavirus diagnostic tests have so far been carried out in Iran.
The outbreak of the pandemic in Iran began in late February 2020.
The number of people infected with COVID-19 across the world has surpassed 133 million, with the death toll nearing 2.9 million.
All coded red
The unprecedented spike in the number of infections in Iran has caused all provincial capitals and big cities to be coded red in terms of the coronavirus spread, according to the Health Ministry.
This has been revealed in the latest map released on Wednesday by the ministry about the coronavirus situation in the country.
Many of these cities were categorized as blue (low-risk) zones during Norouz (March 21-April 2) celebrated to mark the arrival of the New Year and spring in Iran.
The Health Ministry officials have warned that the number of the country’s new coronavirus cases is skyrocketing, calling on people to abide by the health protocols to control the fourth wave of the pandemic.
To dull the edges of the fourth wave, certain businesses and public places in 85 percent of the Iranian cities (coded either red or orange) have been closed, said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi.
He made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday, according to IRNA.
Over 250 cities in the country are coded red, with the number of the orange zones standing at 129, he said, regretting that some of the newly announced restrictions are not being observed yet in the red and orange cities.
Iraq travel ban extended
In addition, Iranian Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Hossein Zolfaqari said that the Islamic Republic has extended the travel restrictions to and from neighboring Iraq for another two weeks, Fars News Agency wrote.
"Prior to the beginning of the Norouz holidays, Iran imposed restrictions on travel to and from to Iraq, which have now been extended for another two weeks. The restrictions do not apply to trade and exchange of goods," he noted.
Commenting on travel between Iran and Turkey, the deputy minister said all trips have been canceled since Monday except for cargo flights.
In addition, the deputy head for research and technology of Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute (RVSRI) said all volunteers received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the Iranian institute by Wednesday as part of the first clinical trial phase of the jab, IRNA wrote.
Dr. Mohammad Hassan Fallah-Mehrabadi noted that by Tuesday, 124 volunteers had received the vaccine, adding nine more people were vaccinated on Wednesday.
Putting the total number of the first phase’s volunteers at 133, he said the second dose of the vaccine has been given to 54 of the volunteers.
Fallah-Mehrabadi added the general health condition of the volunteers after receiving the first dose is favorable, noting that very few side effects have been reported.
He said the first phase of the vaccine’s clinical trial will be completed by May 21, noting that the second phase will most probably begin as of May 22.
The RVSRI deputy head put the number of volunteers in the second phase at 500, saying the third phase will begin in late August, in which the vaccine will be tested on 10,000 volunteers.
All to be vaccinated by winter
According to Fars News Agency, the spokesman of the Iran Food and Drug Administration (IFDA) Kianoush Jahanpour announced on Wednesday that all Iranian people will receive coronavirus vaccine by the end of winter.
“We expect that in the light of the useful, constructive and large-scale measures taken in vaccine development in the country, purchasing vaccines based on the correct norms and the anticipation that a safe and effective vaccine should be provided, general vaccination against COVID-19 in the country will end by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2022),” he noted.
Jahanpour pointed out that according to some estimates, public vaccination will be completed prior to 2022.
He said that Iran will gradually begin using the homemade jabs in the public vaccination campaign as of late spring.