150 new deaths as Iran still in first wave of outbreak
Iran’s coronavirus epidemic is still in its first wave, the government said Tuesday as it announced nearly 150 new deaths a day after reporting a record high daily toll.
The Islamic republic has struggled to contain COVID-19 since it reported its first cases — two deaths — in the Shiite holy city of Qom in late February.
Official figures have shown a rising trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections. But officials have repeatedly denied the upward trend amounts to a second wave.
“The coronavirus is currently peaking in border provinces or cities which did not experience a peak in the first months of the outbreak,” health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Tuesday. “Therefore, we’re still witnessing the first wave in the country,” she said. Lari said Iran would only have a second wave if there was another rise in cases in provinces that “had a significant peak” when the first cases were declared.
Iran recorded 162 deaths from the novel coronavirus on Monday, its highest figure for a single day since the start of the outbreak on February 19. Lari on Tuesday reported 147 new fatalities, raising overall deaths to 10,817. She also raised the country’s COVID-19 caseload to 227,662, with 2,457 new infections in the past 24 hours.
Authorities have so far refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the pandemic’s spread and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas. Iran closed schools, canceled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government gradually lifted restrictions from April to try to reopen its sanctions-hit economy. “Our attempts so far have been to avoid entering the second wave” of the outbreak, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday.
Iran has struggled to contain COVID-19 since late February.