Iran on Wednesday confirmed 219 additional fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the nationwide death toll to 14,853, according to the Health Ministry.

A further 2,586 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, raising the overall count to 281,413, ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

She said more than 244,840 people have so far recovered and been discharged from hospitals, adding that 3,609 patients remain in critical condition.

Over 2.2 million tests have been conducted in the country to date, Lari stated.

The alarming surge in daily fatalities has sent shockwaves across Iran as the healthcare system is already overwhelmed. 

One of the first countries in the region to witness the COVID-19 outbreak, the first two deaths in Iran were reported in the city of Qom, 140 km south of Tehran, on Feb. 19.

In the first wave of the virus, the highest single-day deaths (158) were reported on April 4, before the daily deaths dropped to their lowest level (34) on May 25.

After a remarkable comeback in June that prompted authorities to ease the lockdown, daily cases and deaths both saw steep rise again in July.

The government has made it mandatory to wear masks in public places in an effort to contain the new surge in infections.

Last week, Iran’s Health Ministry said in a report that about 30 to 35 million people in the country are likely to be affected by the deadly virus in coming months.

The report said that an estimated 25 million people in Iran have already contracted the disease in the past five months, along with around 14,000 deaths.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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