Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Ali KhameneiReuters

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday called for "decisive" measures to be taken in order to deal with the recent surges in the cases and deaths of COVID-19 in the country, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"The loss of more than 500 lives in one day and the grief of their families, as well as the infection of tens of thousands of people with their diseases and their medical problems, are really very painful ... so we have duties to deal with it," said Khamenei.

He lauded the Iranian president's one-week deadline to make decisions about the issue of coronavirus resurgence, saying that "necessary action should be decided and acted upon decisively."

Khamenei also stressed the need to expand diagnostic tests and asked the government and insurance companies to make diagnostic tests available to all people free of charge.

Moreover, vaccines, whether imported or domestically-produced, should be provided earnestly and made available to all people, he stressed.

Iran, which has for months wrestled with the worst outbreak in the Middle East of COVID-19, registered 42,541 new cases on Wednesday, taking the country's total infections to 4,281,217.

According to Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education, the pandemic has so far claimed 95,647 lives in the country, after 536 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.

Iran just last month announced it would be reimposing coronavirus restrictions on major cities due to the spread of the delta variant.

In a clear sign of the scale of the outbreak, 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.

Iran’s new President, Ebrahim Raisi, recently promised that his government would start rapid COVID-19 vaccinations in the country.