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EghtesadOnline: Iran's total number of coronavirus cases surged past the two million milestone on Thursday, amid the relentless spread of a fourth wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals in all major cities.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on Friday that we are expecting even more hospitalizations caused by the viral disease over the next few days.

ICU beds are filled to capacity in many Iranian cities and the government is setting up makeshift hospitals to make room for more patients and advising patients to visit hospitals only if it is absolutely necessary.

To curb the outbreak, President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday announced plans to close down all non-essential businesses, including bazaars and malls in cities color-coded 'red' or very high-risk.

He also warned that there will be legal repercussions for coronavirus-positive patients who breach the quarantine.

Responding to a public outcry over the slow inoculation drive, Rouhani said, "From day one, I have ordered this, and now I stress, that our priority is nothing but vaccine procurement. Wherever we find vaccines, we'll immediately finance the purchase and import them.”

Iran reported some 22,500 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, pushing the national tally over 2.029 million, spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, Sima Sadat Lari, said.

Overnight fatalities dropped to 155 on Friday, down by 16%, compared to a day earlier, taking the death toll to 64,000.

“More than 1.69 million have recovered from the respiratory illness and some 4,200 are hospitalized in ICU units,” Lari said.

"Iran has carried nearly 13.5 million diagnostic tests since the start of the pandemic." 

The worldwide tally of Covid-19 cases increased to 134.6 million and the disease's death toll reached 2.91 million.

 

Iran COVID-19 infections