TEHRAN: Iran’s health ministry on Sunday reported quite 680 daily Covid deaths for the primary time, as nationwide restrictions to contain the spread of the virus were lifted.
The ministry said the deaths of 684 people within the past 24 hours brought the entire number of fatalities to 102,038.
Iran also registered 36,419 new infections raising the entire since the pandemic began to 4,677,114.
Iranian health officials have acknowledged that the ministry’s figures understate the important toll but even they create Iran the worst-hit Middle Eastern country. Last week Iran tightened curbs to contain the spread of the virus.
The six-day restrictive measures that ended on Saturday included the closure of state buildings, banks and non-essential shops.
A nationwide ban on private car travel between provinces remains effective until August 27.
At Tehran’s Tajrish Bazaar there have been mixed feelings about the lifting of curbs.
“Today I went and got my (Covid) vaccine and came shopping, because i used to be so mentally exhausted I could not stay home,” housewife Shamsisadat said.
But salesman Salman complained that although the market was closed for 6 days, authorities didn’t impose a ban on public gatherings.
“With the market closed, people travelled” from one province to the opposite and interacted, he said.
The tighter regulations coincided with the commemoration on Thursday of Ashura. During Ashura worshippers throng mosques and participate in processions. The restrictions didn’t apply to open-air mourning processions.
Authorities have repeatedly blamed rising Covid numbers on “unnecessary travel” and citizens flouting health protocols.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari on Sunday bemoaned the “extremely low” observation of health protocols whilst curbs were in situ .
Iran has avoided imposing a full lockdown on its 83-million-strong population, instead resorting to piecemeal measures like temporary travel bans and business closures.
The country has seen since late June what officials have called a “fifth wave” of infections blamed totally on the spread of the Delta variant.
Daily deaths and infections have hit record highs several times this month.
National coronavirus task-force spokesman Alireza Raisi meanwhile said that Iran would accelerate its vaccination drive.
He said the Islamic republic goes to import 30 million doses of vaccine by late September and another 30 by November 21.
Iran began offering jabs in February but the vaccination drive has progressed slower than authorities had planned.
Choked by US sanctions that have made it difficult to transfer money abroad, Iran says it’s struggled to import vaccines.
More than 16.7 million people are given a primary vaccine dose, but only 5.8 million have received the second, the health ministry said.