25 million Iranians infected with coronavirus, Rouhani reveals

25 million Iranians infected with coronavirus, Rouhani reveals
2 min read
18 July, 2020
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani revealed on Saturday that more than 25 million Iranians have been infected with Covid-19.
Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East [Getty]
More than 25 million Iranians have been infected with the novel coronavirus, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday, in shocking numbers that reflect the severity of the outbreak in the Middle East's epicentre. 

Another 35 million are at risk of catching Covid-19, Rouhani warned in a televised speech that failed to address or explain the discrepancy between numbers being reported.

"Our estimate is that as of now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives," Rouhani said in the speech.

"There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk," he said, adding "more than 200,000 people have been hospitalised" in total.

Rouhani's figures reveal a stark contrast to that of the health ministry, which on Friday reported 13,791 people had died from Covid-19.

With a population of more than 80 million, Iran has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the epidemic.

The Islamic republic has been battling a resurgence of the Covid-19 disease, with official figures showing a rise in both new infections and deaths since a two-month low in May.

On Wednesday, authorities said 140 of its health workers had died of the novel coronavirus, with thousands of others infected, as officials urged Iranians to observe health protocols.

"Five thousand of our doctors and nurses have been infected with Covid-19, and tragically, we have lost 140 of them" since the start of the pandemic, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said in televised remarks.

"We all owe them our lives and to honour them, we must observe health protocols."

Rouhani also urged them to respect health regulations, in particular social distancing.

"We ask the people to avoid all gatherings and to adapt the way of life to the current situation" imposed by the virus, he said during a televised cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The rising toll has prompted authorities to make masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and to allow the hardest-hit provinces to reimpose restrictive measures.

Read more: Death or jail: Egypt's medics battle Covid-19 and state persecution

The capital Tehran has reintroduced restrictive measures for a week, after they were progressively lifted country-wide in April to reopen Iran's sanctions-battered economy.

The province housing the city of more than 8 million is currently on "alert" status, according to Lari, and its virus taskforce has called for an extension of restrictions for another week.

The restrictions in place include banning gatherings of more than 10 people and closing gyms, pools, zoos, cafes and other businesses.

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