People walk at a street in Tehran, Iran, November 29, 2021. FILE PHOTO/REUTERS./

DUBAI, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Iran has confirmed its first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the health ministry said on Sunday, while authorities urged Iranians to get their booster doses in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

Deputy Health Minister Kamal Heidari told state TV that the infected person was a middle-age Iranian man who recently returned to Iran from the United Arab Emirates.

“The necessary measures were taken to quarantine this person who lives in Tehran and those who were in contact with him,” Heidari said. “This is the first case of Omicron (coronavirus) variant that has been identified in Iran.”

Coronavirus deaths have reached 131,083, the health ministry said, while infected cases rose by 1,968 in the past 24 hours to 6,170,979 in the Islamic Republic.

More than 50 million of Iran’s population of approximately 85 million have received two doses of coronavirus vaccine.

The government’s official figures for Covid-related infections and deaths have been disputed by medical professionals and health experts in the country, who say the numbers are much higher.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Jason Neely)


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