TEHRAN -- Iran on Tuesday reported a record daily 709 deaths from COVID-19 as the country faced a fifth surge in infections led by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The health ministry said the total number of cases had reached 4.75 million with 40,623 new infections over the past 24 hours. Total fatalities rose to 103,357.
Authorities imposed a two-week road travel ban between cities in the Islamic Republic until Aug. 27, except for essential vehicles. Non-essential businesses and public offices were allowed to reopen on Sunday after a week of mandatory shutdown to help limit the spread of coronavirus infections.
The government has not yet announced whether or not new restrictions will be imposed soon.
Health authorities have warned that daily deaths might reach 800 in coming weeks if Iranians fail to respect health precautions.
Social media users have criticized the former government for being slow to vaccinate people - only about 6.5 million of the 83 million population are fully inoculated. Officials have blamed U.S. sanctions and delays in importing vaccines.
Authorities have also said that less than 40 percent of the population follows measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing
Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from U.S. sanctions reimposed on Tehran in 2018 after President Donald Trump walked away from a 2015 deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme.
But the U.S. measures, which target sectors including oil and financial activities, have deterred foreign banks from processing financial transactions with Iran. Tehran says this has frequently disrupted efforts to import essential medicines and other humanitarian items.
Vaccines have so far been imported from China, Russia, India, Cuba, Japan, and the global COVAX initiative.
President Ebrahim Raisi said last week that imports of 30 million doses have been finalized, and 60 million more doses are needed to control the pandemic.
He said he said the first priority of his new administration was to control the coronavirus and improve the health situation before trying to revive Iran’s economy.
Iran has several local vaccine candidates in the works, including COVIran Barekat which has already been administered across the country.