Iran coronavirus deaths top 30,000
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Iran surpassed 30,000 deaths due to the coronavirus amid the worst outbreak in the Middle East region.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the total death toll has reached 30,123 people with 4,721 patients in critical condition, according to the Associated Press.

With more than 526,000 cases since February, the country has struggled as death tolls continue to rise while the government resists calls for a complete lockdown.

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Many patients are being treated in hospitals as COVID-19 positive officials say, but have yet to be tested.

These patients, along with false negatives and those who do not display symptoms as listed by the World Health Organization, are not counted among the positive cases meaning the numbers may be much higher than what is currently being reported.

Mask mandates in Tehran have been announced and businesses and schools that were recently reopened have now shut down. Government officials have also announced their intent to begin contact tracing those who test positive. Travel bans on five major Iranian cities have been announced, including the capital city of Tehran and the holy city of Mashhad, AP reported.

The increased cases come as Iran is bracing for the upcoming flu season. Iran’s Red Crescent Society said U.S. sanctions were preventing the import of the flu vaccines they need.

The government of Iran has been hesitant to enact any wide-reaching mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19. Iran initially tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic but Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has since warned that the country's true death toll could double. Harirchi tested positive for the coronavirus in February after at first downplaying the virus.

Restrictions to movement helped to lessen the spread earlier this year, but those restrictions were quickly lifted. Iran’s economy was already languishing before the pandemic due to sanctions by the U.S.