WHO: Delta variant has led to 'surge' in outbreaks in Middle East

World Health Organization says Delta variant has triggered a fourth wave in the Middle East.

Ben Ariel ,

COVID-19 vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the Delta variant has led to a "surge" in coronavirus outbreaks triggering a "fourth wave" in the Middle East, AFP reports.

The global health body said the highly transmissible strain, first detected in India, has been recorded in 15 out of the 22 countries and territories of the region under its purview, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan.

"The circulation of the Delta variant is fuelling the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in an increasing number of countries in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region," it said in a statement quoted by AFP.

"Most of the new cases and hospitalized patients are unvaccinated people. We are now in the fourth wave of COVID-19 across the region," said Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region.

As of the last week of July, "only 41 million people, or 5.5 percent, of the region's population, had been fully vaccinated," the WHO said.

WHO noted the rapid spread of the Delta variant was quickly making it "the dominant strain" in the region.

One of the worst outbreaks in the Middle East of COVID-19 was recorded in Iran, where dozens of top officials have fallen ill. At least 30 lawmakers have tested positive in recent months and some have died.

High-profile deaths in Iran from the coronavirus include a member of the council advising the Ayatollah, a former ambassador, a newly-elected member of parliament, an adviser to Zarif and a re-elected member of parliament.