Iran on Monday recorded the highest single-day deaths and infections from coronavirus since the outbreak last year, as the Delta variant drives the fifth wave of the pandemic, Anadolu Agency reported.
The Middle East’s worst-hit country recorded 588 deaths, the highest single-day figure since February 2020, taking the overall fatalities to 94,603, the health ministry said.
According to officials, a person is dying in Iran “every two minutes” and a person contracts the virus “every two seconds”, with most of the 31 provinces currently categorized as “red” (high risk).
The single-day infections also touched a record high on Monday at 40,808, taking the total tally to 4,199,537 cases.
Of the new positive cases, a total of 5,081 patients were hospitalized, the ministry said.
Iran has been grappling with the fresh wave of COVID-19 pandemic, with Delta variant of the cataclysmic virus that first originated in India overwhelming the already battered healthcare system of the country.
Health officials have blamed the new surge on lack of adherence to health guidelines, and failure to impose a strict lockdown.
Tehran, which was locked down for a week recently to contain the spread of the fifth wave, accounts for almost half of the total number of infections and deaths nationwide.
The proposal to indefinitely extend the lockdown in Tehran has faced opposition as it disrupts small-scale businesses that have already been hit hard by the US sanctions.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Monday spoke to newly-elected President Ebrahim Raeisi on the prevailing situation. Raeisi urged the ministry to use “all necessary means” to curb the pandemic.
Namaki had last week warned of the collapse of healthcare system in the country and called for a two-week countywide lockdown. The proposal, however, did not make the headway.
Alireza Zali, the head of Tehran’s anti-coronavirus headquarters expressed concern over the surge, saying the “effective and complete lockdown” is the only practical way to tackle the problem.
He told Anadolu Agency that the healthcare personnel have been working under “tremendous pressure”, with steady increase in infections and hospitalizations, while referring to new variants of the disease as “dangerous”.
Zali, one of the country’s top medical practitioners, said “temporary shutdowns” will not contain the spread of the virus, calling for closure of all non-essential services in the capital city.
The slow pace of mass vaccination has made the fight against the pandemic in Iran more difficult. A total of 16 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far, mostly senior citizens, healthcare workers and ailing people.
Raeisi, who received his first dose of the domestically-produced COV-Iran Baraket vaccine on Sunday, has urged officials to speed up vaccinations.
Iran has blamed US sanctions and its frozen assets abroad on the delay in mass vaccine rollout in the country.