Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned that the country could witness a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as the highly contagious Delta variant is spreading in the nation.
“There are concerns that the whole country may enter the fifth wave if enough care is not taken in following health protocols… The Delta variant entered the country from the south and southeast and we should have been careful to prevent its spread in the country,” the New York Times quoted Rouhani`s remarks on state media.
Last week, during a meeting with members of Iran`s coronavirus task force, Rouhani said that people need to fully observe safety protocols “so that we do not have to impose severe restrictions again”.
The Middle Eastern country had imposed a lockdown in several parts owing to a fourth COVID-19 wave.Average daily COVID-19 reports in Iran have increased by 21 per cent over the past two weeks.
According to a New York Times database. Since the pandemic began, the country has reported more than 3.2 million cases and more than 84,000 deaths.
Iran struggled to control one of the worst outbreaks in the world after officials downplayed the severity of the virus, while a power struggle also complicated the country`s pandemic response.
Furthermore, the vaccination campaign in the world has been slow, as about two per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford, reported New York Times.
Meanwhile, Alireza Raeesi, a spokesman for the task force, said on Saturday that officials estimate less than 70 per cent of Iranians are currently adhering to health and safety rules aimed at curbing the virus.
On Thursday, Rouhani had said that Iran`s vaccine shortage would be eliminated by importing foreign vaccines and the use of domestically-produced vaccines. Iran had received more than 2.1 million AstraZeneca vaccines by May, among other imported vaccines, through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing program.
At the same time, the president said that being fully vaccinated was not an excuse for skirting Covid mitigation measures, that Iranians should postpone travel, and that “foreign nationals who are infected with this virus” should not enter Iran.