As many as 185 new coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 17,802, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

A further 2,697 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the case tally to 317,483, according to ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

She said more than 274,932 patients have recovered so far, while 4,129 are still hospitalized in critical condition.

Over 2.58 million tests have been conducted in Iran to date, Lari added.

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

Across the world, COVID-19 has claimed nearly 701,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since last December.

More than 18.56 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the US, Brazil, India and Russia currently the worst-hit countries, according to figures compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than half of all patients — over 11.15 million — around the globe have recovered so far.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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