Hard-hit Iran reports more than 100 new deaths from COVID-19

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Hard-hit Iran on Monday registered more than 100 new deaths from COVID-19 over a 24-hour period as the aggressive omicron variant spreads in the country, state TV reported.

The report said 104 patients died from the disease since Sunday, when the Islamic Republic announced 85 new deaths over a day’s time. Monday’s new tally more than doubled that of February 1, when the death toll was 50.

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With 132,934 total deaths by Iran’s official count, the country has the highest national toll in the Middle East. Iran says it has vaccinated some 80 percent of its population above age 18 with two vaccine shots. It has only vaccinated 27 percent of that group with three shots.

Authorities say the aggressive omicron variant is now dominant in the country and have urged hospitals to prepare for a new wave of hospitalizations.

“Every day we see a 10 to 15 percent increase in cases,” said Nader Tavakkoli a health official in Tehran province, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on Monday.

The Monday report said 2,615 patients were in critical condition — 220 more than Sunday. Health professionals registered 39,819 new cases since Sunday, about 4,390 more than reported that day.

On Sunday, Health Minister Bahram Einollahi urged people to follow health measures like wearing a mask and social distancing. Iranian authorities say less than 50 percent of Iranians are following the rules.

“Unfortunately, the sixth wave has begun and we are in the middle of the wave. We think that we will receive the peak of the wave in two to three weeks,” he said. “We ask people to follow protocols.”

Some 50 lawmakers in Iran’s parliament have contracted the virus. The chamber has 290 seats.

Also on Monday, Iran said it will celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution with the participation of only cars and motorbikes for the second straight year because of the pandemic.

Iran has relied on Sinopharm, the state-backed Chinese vaccine, but offers citizens a smorgasbord of other shots to choose from, including Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia’s Sputnik V, Indian firm Bharat’’s Covaxin and its homegrown COVIran Barekat shot. British-Swedish AstraZeneca makes up a substantial amount of Iran’s inoculations.

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