Both the daily death toll and the number of new cases were near record highs. The ministry’s spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 453 people died from COVID-19 from Monday to Tuesday, pushing the death toll to 39,202.
She said 10,339 new cases were detected, lifting the total tally to 703,288.
"Tests have now increased from 25,000 to 40,000 per day and will soon increase to 100,000 with ... rapid tests," said Namaki, quoted by IRNA.
Iran’s government has imposed restrictions as the country battles a third wave of the virus.
Restaurants and nonessential businesses in Tehran and 30 other cities were ordered to close at 6 pm for one month, to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to slow the worsening outbreak. Iran has set single-day death records 10 times over the past month, a sign of how quickly the virus is spreading.
The announcement of new limits on Tehran’s bustling cafes and shops, the strictest since a brief nationwide business shutdown in April, reflects the growing sense of urgency among officials. In a first, Iranians’ phones lit up on Monday with a personal appeal from Namaki.
“Do not leave your house for as long as you can and stay away from any crowded places,” his text read. “Coronavirus is no joke.”
Yet in the face of a steep economic decline, Iran continues to avoid a tougher lockdown. The country is already squeezed by unprecedented American sanctions reimposed in 2018 when the Trump administration withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.
Authorities may introduce other targeted measures, like a nighttime ban on through traffic on streets to keep Iranians from going to parties, Tehran Governor Anoushiravan Bandpay said.
A Health Ministry official also said the fourth stage of a nationwide health program kicked off on Tuesday to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus with extensive screening activities and early detection.
A total of 179 million screenings for the coronavirus infection were carried out in three separate countrywide programs until October 31, Ja’far Sadeq-Tabrizi said.
He also noted that the new scheme that was launched on Tuesday focuses on managing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic with a strategy oriented to neighborhoods and families.
People are being screened for infection in the new initiative, the virus carriers are detected, those in close contact with the patients are identified and monitored, and those with the symptoms of illness would be tested at home with rapid test kits, the official explained.
Sadeq-Tabrizi added that special house healthcare teams have also been organized to take care of the people who have to stay home.
Tasnim News Agency, AP and Reuters contributed to this story.