Iran’s health minister has called for two weeks of lockdowns enforced by armed forces and law enforcement to curb the alarmingly fast rise of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Saeed Namaki, who will likely be replaced after Ebrahim Raisi is inaugurated as the next president on Thursday, made the request in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that was also widely published by Iranian media on Sunday.

“The pressure is so high that I’m worried even this plan won’t be enough, unless we reduce the exponential load of illnesses through quick preventive measures and boosting adherence to health protocols,” he wrote.

The minister said the fifth wave of coronavirus infections, this time dominated by the virulent Delta variant, could become even more “catastrophic” and “irreversible” if nothing is done because even if the country does not run out of hospital beds, it will run out of workers.

“Even though they are vaccinated, my co-workers are all becoming sick due to long bouts of sleeplessness and stress,” he said, also warning that the country’s health system could collapse.

The heads of 65 medical universities and faculties across the country also called for a lockdown in a letter to outgoing President Hassan Rouhani last week.

More than 3.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Iran since February 2020 and more than 91,000 people have lost their lives in what has long been the deadliest pandemic of the Middle East.

The health ministry said 366 more Iranians died on Sunday while its numbers show virus deaths have surged by 38 percent compared with a week earlier.

The more than 32,500 newly-discovered cases that were announced on Sunday ranked among some of the highest in the world, and also showed a 32 percent increase compared with a week before.

Source » aljazeera