Iran hit by record 337 virus deaths in single day

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Monday announced 337 deaths from the novel coronavirus, a record high for a single day in the Middle East country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today we are facing a larger wave of this virus and we have to fight it,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised meeting with health officials.

Rouhani called on the Health Ministry to increase the number of daily COVID-19 tests, to help reduce the spread of infections.

The latest deaths brought to 30,712 the total number of fatalities since Iran reported its first coronavirus cases in February.

Iran’s previous record death toll for a day was 279 announced last Wednesday.

People wear face masks at Iran’s capital Tehran. PHOTO: AFP

Iran said the total number of infections in the country reached 534,631 on Monday, with 4,251 people testing positive in the past 24 hours.

Deaths and infections from the virus have been on a rising trajectory in Iran and recorded several new highs since early September.

“One of the key solutions is identifying the infected as quickly as possible, isolating them as quickly as possible, and thus to reduce the need for hospitalisations and also reduce mortality,” Rouhani said.

“It’s not a problem if infections go up (due to increased testing), but it is important that the death rate does not.”

The virus figures were also likely to be higher than officially reported, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi acknowledged last week, primarily due to testing and reporting protocols.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the latest spike in deaths was “unprecedented” and a result of poor compliance with health and mask protocols.