Iran’s Virus Cases Surpass 1 Million Since Start of Pandemic

The number of coronavirus cases reported in Iran surpassed 1 million on Thursday, underlining the virus’s persistent spread in the Middle East’s worst outbreak.

The Health Ministry announced 13,922 new cases in the country of about 80 million, above the seven-day average of 13,598.

While new infections have leveled out in the past week, the daily death toll has fallen from a record high of 486 on Nov. 16 to 358 on Thursday. Some 49,348 people have so far died from the disease.

Restrictions in Tehran will be relaxed from Saturday, when the capital is downgraded from the highest-risk “red” category to “orange” in the country’s three-tier system, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Schools will remain closed, nighttime traffic will still be limited and non-essential workplaces must limit in-person staff by 50%, IRNA cited Alireza Zali, head of the city’s coronavirus task force, as saying.

Iran has blamed U.S. sanctions for impairing its ability to manage the outbreak.

On Thursday Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the penalties prevented Iran from using the COVAX global payment system for vaccines, which is partly run by the World Health Organization

Iran’s Zarif Says U.S. Sanctions Are Blocking Access to Vaccine

“We have extremely competent medical professionals but the load has been too heavy for too long and it is exhausting,” Zarif said in an online conference with the Rome-based Italian Institute for International Political Studies.

Last week Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Iran secured 18 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from four different sources, state media reported at the time. The country is also developing its own drug which is currently undergoing clinical trials, according to the semi-official Iranian Students’ News agency.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.