Iran shattered its daily record for new coronavirus infections
The country is in the midst of one of the most severe surges of the coronavirus to date, following a two-week public holiday for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which drove millions to travel to popular vacation spots across the country, crowd markets and congregate in homes for parties in defiance of government health guidelines. Earlier this week, Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned of a further spike and said authorities had “lost control” over what he called “the rebellious COVID-19 dragon.” Officials have blamed the surge on gatherings and travel during the country’s biggest holiday, saying that compliance with health measures like social-distancing and mask-wearing noticeably plummeted over Nowruz. Police have done little to enforce the restrictions. For months, Iran has struggled to curb the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East. Wednesday’s case count brought the total number of infected in the outbreak to 1,984,348, according to official figures. The health ministry reported 193 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the country’s death toll to 63,699 — the highest toll in the region.