Iran recorded the highest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Friday in over three months, as the country battles a fresh wave of the deadly virus.

Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari in a daily health bulletin announced 3,049 fresh cases of the virus besides 144 new deaths.

It is the highest single-day jump in infections since June 4, when the country recorded 3,574 cases.

The overall tally, Lari said, has now reached 416,198 cases and 23,952 deaths since the outbreak of the virus in Iran in mid-February. Iran was one of the first countries in the region to report the virus.

In last few weeks, the country has seen a significant surge in the number of coronavirus infections and fatalities, and also hospitalizations.

On Wednesday, Iran recorded 179 single-day fatalities, the highest figure since Aug. 12 when 188 died of the virus.

The country has already seen two waves of the virus since February, as authorities struggle to carry out strict measures of social distancing and other health protocols.

Lari said the situation was particularly critical in the capital city of Tehran, northern provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan, central provinces of Isfahan and Yazd, the southeastern province of Kerman and the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi.

Iran’s deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, expressing concern over the fresh wave of the virus, said all parts of the country should be considered “red zones” now.

“We no longer have orange and yellow (zones),” he told media people on Thursday, referring to categorization on the basis of perceived COVID-19 threat. “The whole country is in a state of red.”

Harirchi warned that if the current trend continues, the death toll could jump to 45,000. He urged people to adhere to all necessary health advisories issued by the ministry.

The Health Ministry officials have pinned the blame for the new surge in cases on a flurry of out-station trips in last few weeks, in disregard of the ministry’s instructions to avoid travelling.

Some health experts believe the large outdoor Ashura ceremonies in Tehran and some other cities could have contributed to the new rise in infections.

On Thursday, Iran inaugurated eight health projects under which 1,400 more beds would be added to hospitals in Tehran and other cities.

Last week, President Hassan Rouhani censured the US government for blocking the $5 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Iran to fight the coronavirus.

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