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Iran Hits Record COVID-19 Deaths As Officials Warn Of Worse To Come

Iranian men walk past empty, prepared graves at Behesht Zahra, Tehran's main cemetery.

Iranian health officials are warning the number of COVID-19 fatalities is expected to climb in the coming weeks as the country recorded its highest single-day death toll from the pandemic.

Health Ministry data showed the death toll from the virus increased by 496 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths from the virus to 70,070.

The country also recorded 21,026 more confirmed infections, bringing the total to over 2.4 million cases.

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Some officials have admitted actual virus numbers are likely higher than official figures.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi warned that the death rate will likely increase for at least the coming two weeks.

"The bad news is that for at least the next two weeks the mortality trend will be upward," the IRNA state news agency quoted him as saying.

Iranian officials say a variant of the virus devastating India is spreading in the country, after a highly transmissible variant first found in Britain led to a spike in infections.

The spread of the virus has been exacerbated by disregard of health measures, family gatherings, and the Persian New Year holiday in March.

On April 10, Iran began a partial lockdown in the capital, Tehran, and other major cities to stem a fourth wave of infections across the country of 84 million people.

Iran's vaccine campaign started in early February but has been sluggish, with only 824,000 shots administered to date.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and IRNA
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