At least 322 more coronavirus-related fatalities have raised the death toll in Iran to 31,034, the country’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Some 5,039 more people tested positive for the virus over the past 24 hours, pushing the overall count up to 539,670, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

She added that 434,676 patients have recovered so far, while 4,810 remain in critical condition.

Lari warned that 30 of Iran’s 31 provinces are currently “red zones” with high risk of coronavirus transmission.

The spokesman said that the authorities must take strict measures throughout the country for three weeks in order to control the rapid spread of the pandemic.

Masoud Mardani, a member of the Iranian coronavirus science council, however, said that Iran’s real virus figures were higher than announced by the Iranian authorities.

The real number of fatalities are more than twofold the official ones, Mardani said.

Iran is struggling to contain the pandemic since February, when the first cases were confirmed in the city of Qom.

Restrictions have been reimposed in Tehran, Qom, Qazvin, and Alborz provinces as the country has seen a significant surge in new infections and fatalities in recent weeks.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz from Ankara

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