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Rouhani warns Iran heading toward fourth wave of virus infections

Iranian president says some cities have high rate of cases; remarks come day after Tehran receives 100,000 doses of Russian Sputnik V shot, kicks off vaccination campaign

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 10, 2021  (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 10, 2021 (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

TEHRAN — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday of a COVID-19 “fourth wave” as cases rise in certain areas of the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the pandemic.

“This is a warning for all of us,” Rouhani said in televised remarks.

He said some cities in the southwestern province of Khuzestan were now “red” — the highest on Iran’s color-coded risk level — after weeks of low alert levels across the country.

“This means the beginning of moving towards the fourth wave. We all have to be vigilant to prevent this,” Rouhani added.

The country of more than 80 million people has lost close to 59,000 lives out of more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19.

Iranian health worker Sara Gudarzi receives the COVID-19 vaccine as the country launches its inoculation campain, at the Imam Khomeini hospital in the capital Tehran, on February, 9, 2021 (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

Rouhani’s remarks come a day after Iran received 100,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V shot “ahead of schedule” on Friday, according to health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.

Iran started its vaccination campaign on Tuesday, with the first shipment arriving on February 4.

The Islamic republic has purchased a total of two million doses of the Russian vaccine, according to Jahanpour.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki has said Iran would also receive 4.2 million doses of the vaccine developed by Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, purchased via the international vaccine mechanism COVAX.

Iran is also working on its own vaccine.

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