Iran is now in the grip of a third major wave of COVID-19 infections and most of its 32 provinces are classified as red on a colour-coded scale denoting the severity, with the capital experiencing the severest outbreak.
The official tally shows Iran recorded 195 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total to 25,589 in the country battling the worst coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari also announced during her daily COVID-19 briefing that 3,362 more daily infections were registered, upping the total to 446,448. Hospitals are caring for 1,377 patients at the moment, Lari said.
On Friday, the number of daily infections rose above 3,500 for the first time since the start of the pandemic in Iran in February and the number of deaths was above 200 for the first time in almost two months.
In the past week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have issued direct warnings for people to better adhere to public health guidelines.
“Do not underestimate corona,” Khamenei said in a live televised speech last week.
“The solution for this is in our own hands,” he said, calling on people to follow public health guidelines, including social distancing, using masks and washing hands regularly.
Khamenei’s remarks come shortly after the president also warned of rising cases because of people failing to follow guidelines.
“We need to assume this will last throughout the year, and even next year we might have to adhere to all these public health guidelines,” Rouhani said in a televised meeting of the national coronavirus task force last week.
“Even if we have access to a vaccine I believe we need to maintain this lifestyle,” he said.
According to officials, Iran has joined COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries equitable access to safe and effective vaccines once they are licensed and approved.
Iran has also said it will buy 20 million doses of a vaccine made by an unnamed Indian company run by an Iran-born man.