Iran hit by second consecutive day of record daily Covid-19 cases

Country is suffering some of the worst coronavirus numbers in the region

epa08250955 Iranians wearing face masks wait for taxi on a street of Tehran, Iran, 26 February 2020. According to the Ministry of Health, 139 people diagnosed with the Covid-19 coronavirus and 19 people have died in Iran.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Iran's Covid-19 case numbers hit a record high for the second time in as many days on Tuesday, rising to almost 35,000.

The health minister said there was little hope of improvement unless the public followed health precautions, state TV reported.

Iran, the centre of the pandemic in the Middle East, reported 34,951 new cases on Tuesday, after registering a record 31,814 cases on Monday in a fifth wave blamed on the highly transmissible Delta variant. Total deaths rose by 357 to 89,479 on Tuesday.

“If health protocols are followed as they are now, we will not have much hope of getting out of the [high risk] red situation,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki told state television.

Officials say less than 40 per cent of Iranians wear masks or follow other precautions.

State television broadcast scenes from burials of Covid-19 victims, with mourning relatives appealing to the public to follow safety precautions.

The government is being accused on social media of mismanaging the country's slow vaccination drive, with only 2.5 million of the 83 million people fully vaccinated.

Officials blame US sanctions for hampering efforts to buy foreign vaccines and delaying deliveries.

Iran has in recent years been hit by several protests over the economy and living conditions made worse by US sanctions reimposed in 2018.

Updated: July 28th 2021, 7:47 AM