As many as 174 new coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 17,976, the Health Ministry said Thursday.

A total of 2,634 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the tally to 320,117, according to ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

She said more than 277,000 patients have recovered so far, while 4,156 are still hospitalized in critical condition. “Over 2.6 million tests have been conducted in Iran to date,” Lari added.

The surge in daily fatalities has increased the fears of a collapse of Iran’s already overwhelmed health care system.

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

More than 18.83 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with some 708,000 deaths, and over 11.38 million recoveries.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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