0721 GMT October 17, 2021
Iran’s President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said as of today, the country’s schools must reopen, however, mostly virtually given the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, stressing that the ground must be prepared gradually for physical presence at educational centers by October 23.
In an address to a Wednesday cabinet meeting, the president added that, at present, the pandemic does not allow in-person attendance at schools, IRNA reported.
He noted, however, that in some low-risk regions, a combined approach of half-physical half-virtual education can be employed for holding classes.
Raeisi urged the Education Ministry as well as school principals to draw up precise plans for making physical attendance possible at schools based on the situation of each city and province in terms of the coronavirus spread and number of students in each class and implement it carefully.
The required measures have been taken for the reopening of schools and vaccination of teachers and students, the president said, dismissing health concerns arising from the pandemic’s risks.
He gave the assurance that the health protocols will be fully observed at schools.
Raeisi said there is no doubt that educational activities at the country’s schools and universities must begin at the expected time, emphasizing that, nevertheless, be it in-person or virtual, the delivery of education must be managed effectively.
The greater momentum of public vaccination against COVID-19 in Iran has rekindled hopes of a return to normal conditions, including the resumption of physical attendance at schools and academic centers.
This comes as over the past few days, the country’s daily COVID-19 deaths and infections have been reflecting a downward trend, indicating signs of an end to a deadly wave of the COVID-19 infections, sparked by the spread of the Delta strain of the virus, with which the country has been grappling over the past few weeks.
During the wave the country saw record-high daily deaths and infections of over 700 and 40,000, respectively.
Iranian health authorities and experts maintain that the increased pace of the public inoculation process plays a significant role in the decline in casualties. Iran has been setting new daily vaccination records in the past days.
The country has received several COVID-19 vaccine batches from Russia (Sputnik V), China (Sinopharm), Japan (AstraZeneca) and India (COVAXIN), and has also developed a number of COVID jabs domestically, including one dubbed COVIran Barekat (Barakat Foundation), a jab named Soberana 2, or PastoCoVac (Cuba’s Instituto Finlay de Vacunas and Iran’s Pasteur Institute) and a vaccine known as Fakhra (Defense Ministry).
The other two COVID jabs being developed in the country are Noura (the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) and Razi Cov Pars (Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute).
According to figures by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, Sinopharm accounts for the biggest share (37,529,596 doses) of the country’s jab purchases.
Increase in imports
In addition, Iranian Foreign Ministry Director General for East Asia and the Pacific Reza Zabib tweeted 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered to the country today, stressing that efforts are underway to import close to 15 million doses of the jab each week in October.
He added the imported vaccines will reflect more diversity.
Iran’s Health Ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday that over the past 24 hours, the country’s daily COVID-19 deaths dropped to below 300 for the first time in the past 53 days, standing at 286.
It announced that daily infections reached 17,433 in the same period.
The statement added that the total COVID-19 death toll and infections since the beginning of the outbreak in the country in late February 2020 stand at 118,191 and 5,477,229, respectively.
The ministry said, 6,632 COVID-19 patients are in critical condition, and of the newly-detected cases, 2,164 individuals have been hospitalized.
It added 4,846,771 COVID-19 patients have so far either recovered from the disease or have been discharged from hospitals.
The statement added that 31,331,261 coronavirus diagnostic tests have so far been carried out in the country and 46,899,434 doses of COVID-119 vaccines have been administered.
The Health Ministry said 57 cities in the country are coded red (very high-risk), while 238 are in the orange zone (high-risk).
The number of the country’s yellow (medium-risk) and blue (low-risk) cities are 136 and 17, respectively, according to the ministry.
Not over yet
On Wednesday, Dr. Qassem Janbabaei, a deputy health minister, warned against any laxity in observing the health protocols in the country, saying the fifth wave of the pandemic is not over yet.
He added that the country’s safe passage through the fifth wave depends on the level of compliance with the protocols.
Janbabaei said although hospitalizations and deaths are declining, if the protocols are not observed at a satisfactory level, the pace of the decrease in casualties will slow.
Earlier, Iranian Health Minister Bahram Einollahi expressed hope that the pandemic would end in Iran in February following the vaccination of the target groups.