Iran reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, making it the highest daily increase recorded in the country since June.
The Iranian health department also reported 144 new deaths, bringing the country’s total COVID-19 death toll 23,952, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Reuters reported Friday that Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi warned on state television that the country should be placed on the highest level of alert.
“The color classification doesn’t make sense anymore. We no longer have orange and yellow. The entire country is red,” Harirchi said. “If the current course continues, the death toll will reach 45,000.”
Iran, which now has a total of more than 400,000 reported COVID-19 cases, was one of the first countries to be hit hard by the pandemic.
Some analysts believe the Iranian government has not recorded the full number of cases in its official count, with The Associated Press reporting in April that researchers in the Iranian Parliament suggested the death count was likely double what health officials were reporting at the time.
Last month, an investigation by a BBC Persian service claimed that the number of coronavirus deaths in Iran was nearly triple what the government was reporting.
According to the BBC, the official numbers still make Iran the worst-hit country in the Middle East.