DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran on Monday reported a record 440 COVID deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll in the Middle East’s worst-hit country to 35,738 as a ban on travel in and out of major cities came into force.
The government has shut schools, mosques, shops and restaurants in most of the country since early October and on Monday imposed a four-day ban on travel in and out of 25 cities, including Tehran, state TV reported.
Iranian state media said that the government will make a decision on a complete, two-week lockdown in the capital. It did not elaborate.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 8,289 COVID-19 cases had been registered in the previous 24 hours, taking the national tally to 628,780.
Iran announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus on Feb. 19.
The head of Iran’s Medical Council, Mohammadreza Zafarghandi, doubted the official toll on Sunday and warned that Iran had reached a “catastrophic mortality rate”, the Students News Agency ISNA reported.
“The official death toll is only based on the number of registered patients,” Zafarghandi told ISNA. “Through field surveys in hospitals and cemeteries, our council has obtained a figure at least three times higher than the official death toll.”
The medical council is a non-governmental organisation that is responsible for licensing doctors in Iran.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Nick Macfie)