Iran’s Health Ministry placed three more provinces, including Tehran, on "red" alert over the coronavirus outbreak as the ministry registered a record 235 deaths from the virus for a single day in the country.
The ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Tuesday three provinces have been added to the list of the “red” provinces. Red is the highest category on Iran’s coronavirus risk scale, IRNA reported.
She added that currently 15 provinces are classified as “red” while 11 provinces are in alarming situation.
"The situation is worrying" in Iran, Lari said, noting that "the number of daily hospitalizations in the country is approaching the peak of the disease" in March.
"Tehran, the most populous province, has turned red for the first time since the first peak of the virus," she said, calling for strict enforcement of health guidelines.
She said that 235 people lost their lives from Monday to Tuesday, bringing the overall toll to 16,147.
The previous record high death toll was posted last Tuesday, when the ministry said 229 people had died.
The spokeswoman also noted that the total number of people tested positive for COVID-19 in the country rose to 296,273 following the detection of 2,667 new cases.
Of the new cases detected since Monday, 1,687 patients have been admitted to the hospital, she added.
More than 257,000 patients have recovered from the coronavirus infection so far or have been discharged from hospitals across Iran, the spokeswoman said.
Among those undergoing treatment in medical centers at present, 3,902 coronavirus patients have critical health conditions because of more severe infection, Lari noted.
She further said over 2,380,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests have been carried out in Iran so far.
Also on Tuesday, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said he has good news about a homegrown vaccine for the coronavirus disease, adding that Iran is catching up with advanced countries in vaccine production.
“We don’t want to make delusional comments and don’t want to say that the vaccine would be available to the public until autumn,” the health minister said.
“Today, we can only say that we are not lagging behind many in the world who claim to have produced the vaccine,” Namaki added.
Describing the production of the vaccine as a result of teamwork, the health minister said Iranian experts should exchange their findings so that Iran would be among the first countries with tangible progress in making COVID-19 vaccine.
Last week, Namaki said a homegrown vaccine for the novel coronavirus has successfully passed the initial tests.
Iran has been battling to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak since announcing its first cases on February 19.
Declared virus-related deaths and infections in Iran have rebounded since hitting months-long lows in May.
Authorities have made masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces and allowed the hardest-hit provinces, including Tehran, to reimpose restrictions that had been progressively lifted since April to reopen Iran's sanctions-hit economy.
Tasnim News Agency and AFP contributed to this story.