Middle East

Iran's daily new COVID-19 cases hit two consecutive record highs

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A man walks next to closed shops of Tehran Bazaar following the tightening of restrictions to curb the surge of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Tehran, Iran July 21, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI, July 27 (Reuters) - Iran's COVID-19 cases hit a record high for the second time in as many days on Tuesday, rising to almost 35,000, as the health minister warned there was little hope of improvement unless the public followed health precautions, state TV reported.

The epicentre of the pandemic in the Middle East, Iran reported 34,951 new cases on Tuesday, after registering a record 31,814 cases on Monday in a fifth wave blamed on the highly transmissible Delta variant. Deaths rose by 357 to 89,479 on Tuesday.

"If health protocols are followed as they are now, we will not have much hope of getting out of the (high risk) 'red' situation," Health Minister Saeed Namaki told state TV. Officials say less than 40% of Iranians wear masks and follow other precautions.

State television broadcast scenes from burials of COVID-19 victims with crying relatives appealing to the public to follow safety precautions.

The government has been accused on social media of mismanagement over the country's slow vaccination drive, with just 2.5 million people fully vaccinated from a population of 83 million. Officials have blamed U.S. sanctions for hampering efforts to buy foreign vaccines and delays in deliveries. read more

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by William Maclean

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