Iran records highest single-day toll of COVID-19 cases

Iran records more than 5,000 new infections and 322 deaths in one day.

Elad Benari ,

Coronavirus Iran
Coronavirus Iran

Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, The Associated Press reports.

Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000.

The new infection count eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week, shining a light on the nation’s floundering efforts to combat the virus.

Health minister Saeed Namaki made a dramatic appeal for people to follow health guidance measures, saying that without public help, “the pandemic in this country will not get better and we’ll have to collect the bodies.”

“People, be aware, I, as the health minister, cannot fix this epidemic and the situation alone,” he added, according to AP.

Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks.

On Saturday, the death toll in Iran from the novel coronavirus crossed the 30,000 mark.

Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. Last week, health officials announced that the city had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients.

The government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented US sanctions.

Namaki on Tuesday criticized authorities for failing to implement new anti-virus measures, promoted on state-run media but frequently forgotten on Tehran’s bustling streets.

“We asked for fines to be collected from anyone who doesn’t wear a mask, but go and find out how many people were fined,” he said. “We said close roads, and yet how many did they close?”

The virus has also hit senior Iranian officials. At least 31 members of the Iranian parliament have contracted COVID-19, including its speaker Ali Larijani, who tested positive in April.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, contracted the coronavirus this past week.

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 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a re-elected member of parliament.

Some experts and lawmakers have doubted the accuracy of Iran's official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research center in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

A senior Iranian health official acknowledged in June that nearly one in five Iranians may have been infected with the novel coronavirus since the country's outbreak started in February.