After a lull in deaths and infections in April and May, it now appears that the provinces in Iran which were first hit, including the city of Qom, are back to square one, as figures are on the rise.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that 2,685 more people had tested positive for COVID-19 from Saturday to Sunday, the country’s highest single-day count since July 8.
This raises the total cases identified since late February to 309,437, she said.
Another 208 people died during the same period, bringing the overall toll to 17,190.
According to Lari, the situation is “concerning” in 25 out of Iran’s 31 provinces.
“Sadly, since late June, daily infections have been on a rising trajectory” in Qom in central Iran, she said.
“We are concerned that trivializing the situation and lax observance of health protocols may lead to a worsening of the outbreak in the province.”
Lari warned against travel to Mazandaran Province, a popular northern tourist resort at the vanguard of the outbreak where daily infections have more than quadrupled in the past six weeks.
She also pointed to the high number of infections and hospitalizations in the western province of Lorestan.
Official figures show a marked increase in deaths and infections since the end of June.
However, on Saturday she rejected BBC Persian’s claim about the “real” number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Iran.
Lari expressed regret that BBC Persian has tried to create ambiguity by quoting “unnamed” sources, using phrases like “it seems,” and applying unscientific methodology.
“Iran decisively pursues the scientific path approved by the World Health Organization [in reporting the COVID-19 statistics],” she clarified.
She also strongly recommended that “individuals and media outlets refrain from commenting on scientific issues with political motives.”
Her comments came after BBC Persian cited a list of medical data it claims to have received from “an unnamed source working with Iran’s government,” and alleged that the real number of COVID-19 cases in Iran was more than 450,000 and the number of deaths stood at 42,000 by July 21.
IRNA, Press TV and AFP contributed to this story.