An estimated 25 million people have contracted the coronavirus in Iran in the past five months, with around 14,000 deaths, the Iranian Health Ministry said Saturday.
The ministry warned in a report that another 30-35 million people in the country are likely to be affected by the deadly virus in the coming months.
Speaking during a meeting on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the first wave of the virus outbreak had passed and now the country is grappling with a second wave of the pandemic.
“The [ministry] report says we should expect the number of people who require hospitalization to be twice the number of people hospitalized over the past five months,” Rouhani said.
Warning of a long haul, Rouhani warned that the second phase of the pandemic in Iran is likely to prolong until the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2021).
On Saturday, Iran reported 2,166 new cases of the virus and 188 deaths, taking the overall tally to 271,606 infections and 13,979 deaths.
Mustafa Qaniee, a senior official in Iran’s anti-coronavirus task force, said the estimated cases of 25 million include those patients who had no symptoms and didn’t require hospitalization.
The resurgence of the virus in Iran has forced the authorities to re-impose lockdown and enforce strict adherence to health protocols. Wearing masks has been made mandatory in recent weeks.
The first cases of the virus in Iran were reported in the city of Qom, 140 kilometers south of the capital Tehran, on Feb. 19. It is believed that some traders from the Chinese city of Wuhan had brought the virus.
In March and April, the disease spread to almost all major provinces of Iran, with its epicenter gradually shifting from Qom to Tehran.
In June, the cases saw a significant drop, prompting authorities to ease restrictions. However, the virus staged a more forceful comeback in July, which has only gotten worse now.