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Iran Warns Of Fourth COVID Surge Due To Mutant Virus

Iranian Helath Minister Saeed Namaki (file photo)

The Iranian health minister has warned about a fourth COVID-19 surge in Iran due to the spread of a mutated virus in his country.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani has told state television that "alarm bells were ringing for a fourth coronavirus wave" as at least nine cities and towns in southwestern Iran were declared high-risk "red" zones after a rise in cases on February 12.

In a February 13 meeting with the heads of Iranian medical colleges broadcast live on state television, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said: "Hard days are beginning for us and you must prepare to fight the most uncontrollable mutated virus which is unfortunately infecting the country."

Namaki said Iran's first three deaths this week from the virus variant that was first found in Britain -- including the death of a 71-year-old woman with no history of travel -- suggested that the mutant strain of the virus was spreading and soon "may be found in any city, village or family."

He urged Iranians to avoid gatherings in order "not to turn weddings into funerals" during what is traditionally one of the most popular wedding months in the country.

Iran started a vaccination drive on February 9, two weeks after declaring there were no "red" cities left in the country.

Iran has recorded more than 1.5 million cases and 58,883 deaths from COVID-19.

Based on reporting by Reuters and IRNA