Iran's daily Covid infections have risen alarmingly as two-week New Year (Nowruz) holidays come to an end with 627 people admitted to intensive care this week.
Hossein Farshidi from the country’s Ministry of Health warned that a new wave of Covid-19 has seen 13 cities put on “red alert”.
The festive season which began on since March 17 saw hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel the country to visit friends and take holidays.
Iranian media quoted Hamid Souri, a professor of epidemiology at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences that "Due to the progressive nature of the pandemic and the high pathogenicity of Omicron sub-variants, this process can become volcanic.”
Warning that the new wave should be taken seriously, Souri urged the Ministry of Health and government agencies to “quickly control the outbreaks.”
The slow rate with which the red alert was issued garnered criticism on social media where those who have fallen ill criticised the response.
Iran was the second country after China where the pandemic started in February 2020 and according to disputed government figures has killed more than 145,000 people. However, some government officials and doctors have said that the actual death toll was at least twice more than what the government has announced.
Iran was also slow in vaccinating its population, because Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned Western vaccines in January 2021.