EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Health Ministry on Sunday registered the first three deaths from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus nearly one month after the first case was identified in the capital Tehran.
“The patients were old and had not gotten fully vaccinated [three shots],” head of the ministry’s Public Relations and Information Center, Mohammad Hashemi, was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“One Omicron patient died in each city of Tabriz, Yazd and Shahrekord and one severely ill patient is under care in Ahvaz,” he added.
The official said that positive Omicron cases confirmed in the eastern city of Mashhad had climbed to 249 and the total tally across Iran had spiked to 1,162.
Iran reported its first Omicron case nearly one month ago in a resident of Tehran, a middle-aged man who had contracted the virus during his trip to the United Arab Emirates.
The highly contagious variant is now being locally transmitted among individuals without a history of international travel.
Around 50 mutations in the variant help it avoid antibodies and spread easily from one person to another, more contagious than the Delta variant.
Hashemi pointed to Omicron’s low death count so far, noting that only three in 1,162 people had died from the variant.
“But protocols need to be observed and vaccinations be completed as soon as possible,” he concluded.
Deputy Health Minister Saeed Karimi on Saturday sounded the alarm over the fast-spreading Omicron variant and instructed all health centers to be on alert in case of a surge in cases.
The fifth wave of the outbreak, driven by the Delta variant, overwhelmed hospitals over the summer as they ran out of beds and medical supplies.
Health experts suggest that as the majority of Iranians have since gotten vaccinated against the contagion, events of the summer will not be repeated with Omicron.
Iran began giving out booster shots to anyone over the age of 18 one day after the Omicron variant was detected in the capital.
The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that 12.5 million Iranians had received booster shots to develop stronger immunity against the latest variant of the coronavirus.
The country began rolling out booster vaccinations for healthcare personnel and those with weak immune systems at the end of summer.
Since the start of the national immunization campaign, 60.3 million of Iran’s population of 85 million have been given a first dose and 53 million have been given two shots.
Over the past 24 hours, 31 Covid-19 patients have died from the disease, the Health Ministry announced, bringing the national death toll to over 132,070.
Some 2,290 patients tested positive for coronavirus in one day, taking the cumulative tally of cases to 6.22 million.
Positive cases caused by the Omicron-driven wave continues to climb across the world as Covjid-19 cases rose to 327 million and fatalities reached 5.55 million.