Rouhani says 35 million Iranians may contract coronavirus


Iran President Hassan Rouhani at a meeting of national taskforce to combat coronavirus pandemic.

After a few weeks of lockdown in the capital city of Tehran, when the country first encountered the pandemic, most of the businesses and state organizations resumed working while considering preventive measures.

"There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk", he said.

Iranian health officials have tried to play down President Hassan Rohani's estimate that as many as 25 million Iranians could have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak.

Rouhani added that according to the predictions, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients would be doubled in the near future, from its current 200,000 ones who have been hospitalized in the past 150 days.

Before Iran reported its first cases of the virus in February, authorities denied it had reached the country for days, allowing the virus time to spread as the nation marked the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution with mass demonstrations and then held a parliamentary election in which authorities desperately sought to boost turnout.

Iran has been battling a resurgence of infections, with official figures showing a rise in both new infections and deaths since a two-month low in May.

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"Between 30 and 35 million people in the coming months may be exposed to the disease", Rouhani said to members of Iran's coronavirus task force.

The rising toll has prompted authorities to reimpose restrictions in worst-hit provinces after being lifted country-wide in April, with Tehran extending them for an extra week on Friday.

A new report by the Iranian Health Ministry estimated that roughly 25 million people in Iran have been infected by COVID-19.

"We have not yet achieved herd immunity and we have no choice but to be united and break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus", he said, citing the results of a study by the Iranian health ministry.

The ministry does not report the overall number of hospitalisations over Covid-19.

Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the epidemic.