TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran shattered its daily record for new coronavirus infections for the second consecutive day, with 20,954 cases reported.
The record Wednesday comes as the country is in one of the most severe surges of the coronavirus to date. It follows a two-week public holiday for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when millions traveled to vacation spots across the country and congregated in homes in defiance of health guidelines.
For months, Iran has struggled to curb the coronavirus amid inhuman sanctions imposed by the West. The case count Wednesday brought the total number of infected to 1.98 million, according to official figures. Iran Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said another 193 people had died in the past 24 hours, raising the confirmed death toll to 63,699.
The country’s vaccine rollout lags amid the sanctions, with only some 200,000 vaccine doses administered in the nation of 84 million, according to the World Health Organization. COVAX delivered its vaccine first shipment to Iran on Monday from the Netherlands, containing 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
Tehran, the capital, and 250 cities and towns are declared "red zones,” which have the most severe restrictions in place and the highest virus positivity rate. Over 85% of the country now has the "red” or "orange” infection status, authorities say.