DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s health minister warned on Tuesday that coronavirus deaths may more than double soon if Iranians flout rules aimed at containing the virus, as new cases surged to a record high in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.
“This is the last chance for our health system to recover, if people fall short we will lose the game and reach 4-digit death figures …and that is an abyss from which it is difficult to escape,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said ahead of nationwide restrictions to curb the virus’ spread, state media reported.
The government says stricter restrictions will be imposed in the capital Tehran and some 100 other cities and towns from Nov. 21. Non-essential businesses and services will be shut or seriously reduced and cars will not be allowed to leave or enter those cities.
New coronavirus infections in Iran have risen by 13,352 in the past 24 hours, a daily record, taking the cumulative total to 788,473, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that a near-record 482 people had died in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 42,461.
Police said a ban on cars leaving or entering provincial capitals would already go into effect on Wednesday, state television reported.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Catherine Evans and Bernadette Baum)