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Iran Posts Second Consecutive Daily Record For New COVID-19 Cases Amid Holiday Surge

Norouz-themed decorations in Tehran. Millions of Iranians traveled this year to celebrate the Persian New Year, despite health guidelines warning them not to.

Iran has set a new daily record for new coronavirus infections amid a surge of cases following the Norouz holiday.

The Health Ministry said on April 7 that in the previous 24 hours, 20,954 new cases had been reported, breaking the record set a day earlier of 17,430 infections.

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Deputy Health Minister Iraj Haririchi said on state television that some members of the country’s coronavirus task force were to blame for the surge by “preventing us from using the golden opportunity of [the holiday] to extinguish the flames of the coronavirus.”

Last year, the two-week Persian New Year celebration was a muted affair after officials enacted tight restrictions on gatherings and the movement of people around the country.

Haririchi said similar measures weren’t enacted this year because of some officials, whom he did not name. Instead, millions of Iranians hit vacation hotspots across the country to celebrate the holiday, despite health guidelines warning them not to.

“Travel should have been stopped,” he said.

Iran has struggled for months to curb the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East.

Official figures on April 7 put the total number of cases in the country at 1,984,348, with the death toll at 63,699.

Some critics say they believe the government has suppressed reporting and that the actual numbers are much higher.