Fighting Covid-19 must be top priority – Iran’s new president

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Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua) Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

Bringing Iran’s coronavirus pandemic under control is the top priority of the government, said new President Ebrahim Raisi during his first Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“I was just as the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery [in Tehran], where numerous people have to bury their dead daily and mourn them,” he said. In order to prevent more suffering, fighting the pandemic has to be the top priority of all ministries, according to comments by Raisi shared by the presidency’s website.

There has been a drastic rise in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Iran in recent weeks. The country recorded more than 700 deaths within a day on Tuesday, a first. The Health Ministry says more than 104,000 have died amid the pandemic, while about 4.8 million have suffered an infection.

The Health Ministry blames the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is spreading worldwide because it is so much more infectious than earlier versions of the disease.

But a lack of vaccines is also playing a role in the disease’s spread in Iran. Economic problems and US sanctions are making it hard to import enough vaccine, which means vaccine drives have been slow to take off.

So far, only about 8 per cent of the country’s population of 83 million have received the two jabs necessary for full vaccination required by most of the available products.

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