Iran COVID-19 death toll passes 70,000

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The COVID-19 death toll in Iran passed 70,000 on Monday, according to health ministry figures, with a record 496 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours.

Iran is battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak, and is struggling amid the latest wave of the infections.

Monday’s figures bring the total number of deaths to 70,070, with over 2.4 million cases.

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The previous record single-day death toll was 486 in November.

Some officials have admitted actual virus numbers are likely higher than official figures.

Iran has never imposed a general lockdown on its 82 million people.

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But more than 300 Iranian cities and towns, including the capital Tehran, are classified as “red,” the highest rating on its coronavirus risk scale, requiring all non-essential businesses to close.

Like many other countries, the Islamic republic is hoping vaccinations will help combat the health crisis, but the rollout of its inoculation campaign, which started in early February, has progressed more slowly than authorities had wanted.

The health ministry said Monday that Iran had administered more than 824,000 jabs.

Authorities are also hoping to produce one or more domestically developed vaccines.

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