Tehran, Iran Although officials warned that the COVID-19 pandemic currently has one victim every two minutes, ceremonies to commemorate the Islamic holy month of Muharram have begun in various parts of Iran.

The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that another 536 Iranians had died in the past 24 hours because it recorded 42,541 cases in the fifth wave of major infections, this time defined by the highly contagious Delta variant. Since February 2020, more than 95,000 people have died of the disease.

But Tuesday’s video from several provinces including Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, showed observers gathered in closed and open spaces without masks.

The health agreement that still allows some Muharram rallies to continue has been criticized online and in the local media. The guidelines allow gatherings in enclosed spaces, provided that their capacity is 25% and physical distances are respected.

In Tehran, there are many mourning ceremonies every day, while businesses are still open and public transportation is congested.

The capital currently accounts for about a quarter of all deaths in the country.

Since most of Iran’s 31 provinces are at the highest alert level, the color-coded map indicating the severity of the epidemic has once again turned into a sea of ​​red.

Health officials warned that the public’s compliance with health procedures (such as wearing masks and keeping body distance) is very low, less than 40%.

Many provinces report that hospitals have reached or are close to maximum capacity. In some facilities, all hospital beds are exclusively for coronavirus patients, while people in other situations are rejected.

The pictures show that people are scrambling to buy medicines, and there is a long queue in pharmacies, some of which are in short supply and expensive.

After a shortage earlier this month, the country is importing a large number of IV bags.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said on Tuesday that the number of deaths from the virus is expected to rise in more than a month, and that public gatherings may further extend this time.

However, despite the worrisome situation, the National Anti-Coronavirus Working Group, now chaired by President Ebrahim Raisi, who was sworn in on Thursday, has so far rejected Health Minister Said Namaki ( Saeed Namaki)’s request for a two-week blockade by the armed forces.

In a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week, the minister warned that the country’s tense health system could collapse if action is not taken quickly, as many health workers are under pressure. Get ill.

Khamenei let the new president make a decision.

Vaccine launch

Iran has imported vaccines from China, Russia, India, Cuba and the global COVAX program, and several local vaccine candidates are under development.

The pace of vaccination has accelerated in the past few weeks, but the country is still far from the coverage rate of 83 million people.

Approximately 13 million people (15.6 percent) received at least one injection, and about 3 million people received two injections-these figures are arousing public outrage.

Most of the doses administered so far come from China’s Sinopharm Group, followed by AstraZeneca’s injections.

COVIran Barekat is the country’s first drug candidate. It has suffered several production delays and more than 1 million doses have been injected nationwide.

The top leader who was vaccinated with Barekat in June and July banned imports of vaccines produced in the United States and the United Kingdom in January, saying he did not trust them.

On Wednesday, Khamenei referred to the pandemic as the country’s most urgent priority and ordered officials to take immediate measures to control the situation, but did not elaborate.

“Whether it is imported or locally produced, we must redouble our efforts to provide people with vaccines in any necessary way,” he said in a short video speech.

The supreme leader supported the Muharram ceremony, but stated that they must abide by health procedures so that the “enemy” cannot claim to be the center of the outbreak.

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