As many as 215 new coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 17,405, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

A further 2,598 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, raising the case tally to 312,035, according to ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari.

She said more than 270,228 patients have recovered so far, while 4,104 are still hospitalized in critical condition.

Over 2.53 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.

Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil, India, and Russia are currently the countries hardest hit in the world.

The pandemic has killed nearly 690,000 people worldwide, with over 18 million confirmed cases, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly 10.7 million people have recovered from the disease.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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