TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Monday registered its highest single-day death toll from COVID-19, state TV reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to over 70,000 in the country hardest hit by the coronavirus in the region.
The report said 496 new deaths were tallied since Sunday, surpassing Iran’s previous most deadly day in mid-November when 486 were counted.
The report said officials counted 21,026 more confirmed cases over the same 24-hour period that put the total confirmed cases at about 2,417,230 since the outbreak in February last year.
Also on Monday, Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned the death toll may rise in the coming weeks, “We will have two to three bitter weeks ahead that should be managed in a proper way,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Iranian officials say the Indian variant of the disease is spreading in the country on the heels of the U.K. variant that arrived in Iran from Iraq in March.
On April 10, Iran began a partial lockdown in the capital Tehran and other major cities amid a fourth wave of infections, a worrisome trend after more than a year of the country battling the Middle East’s worst outbreak.
Authorities blame the increasing death toll on a disregard of health measures in public transportation and family gatherings.
Iran has administered only 820,000 doses of vaccine in a country of 84 million, according to the Health Ministry.
COVAX, an international collaboration to deliver vaccines equitably across the world, delivered its first shipment to Iran from the Netherlands containing 700,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses earlier this month.