Iran struggles to contain coronavirus as cases surpass 150,000

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Iran said its caseload of novel coronavirus infections passed the grim milestone of 150,000 on Sunday, as the country struggles to contain a recent upward trend.

The government has largely lifted the restrictions it imposed in order to halt a COVID-19 outbreak that first emerged in mid-February.

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But the health ministry has warned of a potential virus resurgence with new cluster outbreaks in a number of provinces.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,516 new cases were confirmed across the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 151,466.

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Infections have been on a rising trajectory in the Islamic republic since hitting a near two-month low on May 2.

Jahanpour said the virus had claimed another 63 lives over the same period, raising the overall toll to 7,797.

So far the government has reimposed a lockdown only in Khuzestan province on Iran’s southwestern border with Iraq.

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It remains “red”, the highest level on Iran’s color-coded risk scale.

Experts both at home and abroad have voiced skepticism about Iran’s official figures, saying the real toll could be much higher.