Iran registered a record 235 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to official health ministry figures released Tuesday.
The country has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, and COVID-19 infections and deaths have risen sharply since restrictions on movement began to be eased in mid-April.
The previous record high death toll was posted on July 21, when the health ministry said 229 people had died.
“We have lost 235 of our compatriots due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours,” taking the overall toll to 16,147, said health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.
Authorities had placed Tehran among 15 out of Iran’s 31 provinces now on “red” alert over the virus, she told a televised news conference.
“The situation is worrying” in Iran, Lari said, noting that “the number of daily hospitalizations in the country is approaching the peak of the disease,” seen in March.
“Tehran, the most populous province, has turned red for the first time since the first peak of the virus,” she said, calling for strict enforcement of health guidelines.
Red is the highest category on Iran’s coronavirus risk scale.
Iran has been battling to contain the coronavirus outbreak since announcing its first cases on Feb. 19.
Declared virus-related deaths and infections in Iran have rebounded since hitting monthslong lows in May.
Authorities have made masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and allowed the hardest-hit provinces, including Tehran, to reimpose restrictions that had been progressively lifted since April to reopen Iran’s sanctions-hit economy.
President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians on Saturday to observe health protocols and practice social distancing during the coming Muslim festivities.
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, speaking on state television on Saturday, urged people not to visit the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, where he said there had been a 300% increase in COVID-19 cases over a one-month period.
At the end of this week, Muslims around the world will mark the holiday of Qurban Bayram, or Eid al-Adha. This year, Saudi Arabia will limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending the hajj to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.