Iran’s president estimated that up to 25 million in the Middle Eastern country may have contracted coronavirus since the outbreak began.
President Hassan Rouhani announced the sobering figure Saturday, while urging people to regard COVID-19 seriously, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, The Associated Press reports.
The politician pointed to a new Iranian Health Ministry study, which has not yet been made public, for the stats.
Officials have not yet detailed the basis for the estimates, but the president expressed his belief that within months, between 30 million and 35 million more of Iran’s nearly 81 million people might be infected with the potentially lethal virus.
A reasoning for the latter approximation has also not been given.
In citing the study, Rouhani theorized that hospitalizations will soon amount to “twice as many as we have seen in the last 150 days.”
Over the past several weeks, the country’s daily death toll has hit its highest levels yet, which has left many fearful as government officials insist they’re unable to lock the country down once again, citing its already crumbling economy.
The spike in cases forced capital Tehran to introduce new restrictions beginning Saturday that would shut down some public areas such as zoos, indoor pools and more.
Over 2,100 new cases and close to 200 new deaths were announced by health officials in the last 24 hours, AP reports.
Iran’s coronavirus outbreak has steadily been the most severe of the region with over 271,000 infections to date, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
The country has also seen close to 14,000 die of the disease.
Iran reported its first COVID case in February, days after authorities started denying the virus had infiltrated its borders, which allowed it to spread further.
By April, a parliamentary report estimated the country’s death toll was probably at least double the official figures. And, citing testing shortages, the report estimated infections were likely “eight to 10 times” higher than official figures, which are based on people who died in hospital wards for the virus.
With News Wire Services