EghtesadOnline: Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped the 20,000 mark on Wednesday, as over one million students sat for the nationwide tests to enter undergraduate and graduate programs.
“Some 153 overnight fatalities pushed the nation’s toll to over 20,000,” Health Ministry’s Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari was quoted as saying by ISNA.
About 1.39 million students began to take part in the four-day examination on Wednesday, following a prolonged dispute over safety concerns as a second wave of infections spread across the country, raising the tally of cases to over 350,000.
The Health Ministry has devised stringent measures to reduce the chances of virus transmission during the test. The protocols include the mandatory wearing of facemasks, a 1.8-meter distance between candidates and the isolation of Covid-19 positive students.
Science Minister Mansour Gholami reassured families that health protocols are being strictly observed in testing centers.
“All families and candidates of the 2019 entry exam can rest assured that all test centers are safe and we are looking forward to meeting them [the students] in universities,” Gholami said.
During the first day, more than 102,000 candidates took the consequential test. Initial results will be announced in a month.
“The students are expected to start attending classes by late October. If circumstances permit, we would like to see the physical presence of newly admitted students in universities, even for two or three weeks [each month],” Deputy Science Minister Ali Khaki Sediq said.
Tehran Schools Reopening in Doubt
The reopening of Tehran’s schools on Sept. 5 (two weeks before the conventional start of the new academic year) hinges on the state of the coronavirus outbreak across the province, Education Ministry’s Spokesman Masoud Saqafi said.
“If Tehran is still on red alert by the start of the new school year, all classes will be held online until further notice and no schools will open,” he added.
If Tehran’s outbreak status improves to yellow or alarming, students can go to school on alternate days.
Saqafi noted that primary schools might require the physical presence of first-graders for one or two weeks to establish an emotional bonding between the teacher and the student.
“Within a 24-hour period, 2,444 new patients were confirmed to have caught the deadly virus, less than half of whom required admission to hospital,” Lari said.
“More than 302,000 have recovered from the infectious disease and 3,860 are in serious condition.”
According to the health official’s daily update, Iran has administered 2.93 million diagnostic tests to detect infected individuals.
Despite a slight decline in Covid-19 cases, 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces are still on red alert or in an alarming state.
Over 22.33 million have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the pandemic began in late December in Wuhan, China. The contagion has so far killed 785,000 worldwide.