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Iran Health Officials Say Coronavirus Contaminating At Much Greater Rate Than Before

A volunteer wearing protective gear checks the temperature of a worshipper as she enters the mosque of Tehran University to pray. July 30, 2020.

Coronavirus' contamination power has increased by three to nine times in Iran, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said on Tuesday, August 11.

Speaking in a program of the state-run television, Harirchi said the coronavirus is a complex virus and "has even become more complex [due to mutations] now". "In addition to complexity, its contamination rate has increased by three to nine-fold," Harirchi said but added that it is not clear if it only contaminates at a higher rate or also causes COVID-19 at the same higher rate.

On Sunday Dr. Minoo Mohraz, the Head of the Iranian Center for HIV/AIDS and a pioneer AIDS specialist, also said that the power of the virus' contamination has increased by ten-fold.

The Deputy Health Minister also warned that observance of health protocols by seventy percent of the population is not enough and the rate should increase to 95%.

Unlike many other countries across the globe, Iran has never enforced strict measures for a national lockdown, since the country is suffering from internal and sanctions related economic problems, Harirchi said.

Tens of thousands are expected to participate in the approaching annual ceremonies to mourn the death of the Shi'ites' third Imam, Hussain ibn Ali (626 AD - 680 AD). Health experts are worried about a significant increase in the spread of the coronavirus among the crowds.

Health Minister Saeid Namaki has called for holding the mourning ceremonies "with full sensibility and wisdom" while many say controlling the ceremonies would be too difficult.

Meanwhile, a heated debate is underway on whether to hold the annual nation-wide university entrance exams and reopen the schools across the country.

According to the latest figures announced by the Health Ministry on Wednesday, with 188 more deaths over the last 24 hour period, the total COVID-19 deaths in Iran has risen to nearly 19,000. During the same period 2,510 new cases were identified which brings total cases to 333,699.

The Iranian health ministry publishes a daily report, announcing the latest statistics concerning the deadly virus. Nevertheless, the official figures have always been contested by many, including by health officials, lawmakers and members of city councils.