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Coronavirus: Iran reports record high death numbers as it grapples with third wave

Health minister says whole country on Covid-19 red alert as cases soar
Hospital admissions have reached record levels as entire country struggles with a rise in coronavirus infections (Reuters)

Iran on Wednesday reported 239 Covid-19 deaths, a record number over 24 hours, as the country grapples with a third wave of the pandemic. 

The new number of deaths took the total number of fatalities to 27,658, Iran's health ministry reported.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that it had uncovered 4,019 new cases, making the total number of cases Iran has recorded to 483,844. 

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Earlier this week, Iran said that almost the entire country was on a coronavirus red alert, as cases and deaths rose to record levels. 

Iran also made it mandatory to wear face masks in public in Tehran from Saturday. 

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi on Tuesday said that Tehran was facing a more severe crisis than other parts of the country. 

At least 948 people were in intensive care and 311 patients were waiting in emergency rooms because of Covid-19, according to the IRNA news agency. 

Masks had already been compulsory in indoor public spaces since July and mandatory outdoors in the capital too. 

On Saturday, schools, libraries, mosques and other public institutions in Tehran closed for a week as part of measures to stem the rise in Covid-19 cases. 

Similar closures had also been imposed in Zanjan province, northwest of Tehran, and cities in several other provinces, shutting museums, theatres, gyms, cafes and hair salons. 

Flights to Iraq had also been blocked by Iranian authorities for the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen. 

After stopping flights to Turkey, Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation said on Monday that one flight per day would be allowed in each direction.