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EghtesadOnline: Critically ill coronavirus patients in Iran topped 4,000 on Wednesday, as a second wave of infections continued its relentless spread across the country.

The number of patients in intensive care units rose to 4,027, and overnight deaths dropped to 196, compared to 235 a day earlier, taking the death toll to 16,343, Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari was quoted as saying by ISNA.

Iran reported 2,636 new cases of the novel coronavirus within a 24-hour period, 60% of whom had developed severe symptoms and required hospitalization. The newly-identified patients pushed the national total to 298,909, she added.

According to Ali Fattahi, a deputy at the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, over 6,000 healthcare providers have so far contracted Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and 140 have lost their lives.

Among the infected health personnel, the worst-hit group were the nurses (22%), followed by general practitioners (20%), internal medicine specialists (8%) and gynecologists (5%).

The Health Ministry spokeswoman said 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces are either on red alert, or in an alarming state.

Tehran Province is among the hardest hit regions, prompting the government to introduce lockdown disciplines in the overcrowded province.

“The scope of restrictive measures will be extended in Tehran, if deaths and hospitalizations increase,” Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said.

Pointing to Iran’s mandatory mask wearing policy, Harirchi said the effects of health protocol on the coronavirus death rate will begin to reveal itself after four to six weeks. 

“The only change we have witnessed in public behavior is a rise in facemask wearing. There were no significant shutdowns and no reduction in parties, gatherings or weddings,” he said.

Nearly 260,000 have recovered from the infectious disease. Iran has administered 2.4 million diagnostic tests in the past few months to track down infections.

Worldwide Covid-19 infections neared 17 million on Wednesday and fatalities increased to 665,000.

Iran Patients Virus coronavirus infections