Iran was among the hardest-hit countries outside China early on during the pandemic, and has so far reported 164,270 cases and 8,071 deaths. -AFP
Iran has become the first country in the world to report a second wave of coronavirus infections after easing its lockdown.The Middle Eastern nation logged a record 3,574 cases of the virus just one day ago, beating its previous worst day of 3,186 cases logged on March 30.
Iran began easing its lockdown restrictions - which were imposed in February as the virus ran rampant - in mid-April as the disease declined.Cases began picking up again in early May and have now been above 3,000 for three days running, even as gyms and public offices were reopened at the weekend.
Iranian health officials have argued that the 'second wave' is actually the result of better testing and data-logging, after serious doubts were raised over the accuracy of its data when the virus first hit.
That is partially confirmed by the fact that the country's daily death figures have not been rising along with the infection total. The state-run IRNA news agency reported 59 deaths on Wednesday, slightly below the May average of 60 deaths per day. If the true number of infections including those not picked up in tests had been rising, then the number of deaths would be expected to follow suit.
Still, the figures have been enough to worry Hassan Rouhani, Iran's President, who rebuked people for failing to take the virus seriously. Speaking Wednesday as the record case total was reported, Rouhani said: 'If in any part of the country these warnings are not taken seriously and, God forbid, the outbreak of illness peaks again, the authorities will have to re-impose restrictions.
'This will create problems for the ordinary lives of citizens and also will bring serious economic damage to society.'Health Minister Saeed Namaki added: People seem to think the coronavirus is over.'The outbreak is not over yet and at any moment it may come back stronger than before.'
'If our people fail to respect the health protocols... we must prepare ourselves for the worst situation.'He spoke after a health ministry poll showed just 40 per cent of Iranians now believe in obeying social distancing rules, down from 90 per cent earlier in the outbreak.
The number of people who believed in self-isolating stood at 32 per cent, down from 86 per cent. While several countries have reported second outbreaks of the disease, Iran is the only one to have reported a consistent and sustained rise in cases after an initial fall.
South Korea has suffered several outbreaks since easing its social distancing measures, but has used test and tracing systems to stamp them out.Outbreaks in China and Germany have been treated in a similar fashion.
Other countries such as Brazil, Peru, and South Africa are consistently reporting record numbers of cases - but have not yet defeated their first wave.Iran was one of the hardest-hit countries outside of mainland China early on in the pandemic, and still has one of the highest overall case totals in the world.
The country is currently reporting 164,270 cases of the virus, and 8,071 deaths.Iran's death figure is remarkably low for the number of cases, but doubts have been raised over whether all deaths are being logged. Some countries only include deaths in hospital where a positive coronavirus test came back before the patient died.
This largely excludes deaths in care homes, which in some countries make up a significant proportion of those who have died Where countries have included suspected coronavirus cases and deaths outside hospitals in their tally, the total has increased significantly.Globally, there are more than 6.6million cases and 391,000 deaths. South America has now emerged as the worst-affected continent.
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