Hospitals Demand Lockdown As Covid Surges In Iran Oil Province
The governor of Khuzestan on Monday [February 22] warned that the health situation in Ahvaz, capital of the south-western oil-rich province, and ten other cities was critical with many hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. Jamal Alemi-Nisi told reporters that although intensive care units were full, some shops remained open and people were still on the streets.
The heads of six hospitals in Ahvaz treating Covid patients urged the authorities to introduce a two-week lockdown in the province. There has been a spike in Covid cases and deaths in Khuzestan since early February, attributed by officials to the spread of the ‘British’ variant from neighboring Iraq.
Iran has introduced restrictions at the Iraqi border in the past few days. Rouhollah Latifi, spokesman for Iranian customs, on Monday said several crossings had been closed to travelers and that the transit of commodities was continuing through exchanges made at the border.
On February 13 Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned of a likely “formidable surge” in Covid cases and said the strain first detected in the United Kingdom − which is more transmittable than the earlier strains and more likely to affect younger people − had spread across Iran.
Khuzestan has reported the highest provincial number of infections with the British variant, which has killed at least three people in the rest of Iran. On Monday the head of Gilan Province’s Medical Sciences University said a 70-year-old woman who had died of the British strain had been infected through contact with a family member visiting from Alborz Province.
Iran has reported 1.58 million Covid cases and 59,572 deaths, according to government data released on Monday, with 89 deaths in the previous 24-hour reporting period. According to Dr Sima-Sadat Lari, the health ministry spokesperson, nearly 10.5 million coronavirus tests have been carried out. Iran began vaccinations on February 9 with the Russian-made Sputnik V of which it has so far received 600,000 doses.