For the fourth day in a row on Wednesday Iran's coronavirus deaths that had held below 100 since April 14, went well above 100. Health officials are very concerned that a second peak may be imminent.
On Wednesday the Health Ministry spokeswoman, Dr. Sima-Sadat Lari, said over the past 24 hours 120 lost their lives and more than 2,600 were diagnosed with COVID-19. The numbers bring Iran's total coronavirus cases to 195,051 and the fatalities to 9,185 since late February.
Health Ministry officials had earlier warned about a new surge in the outbreak as the government eased the not-so-strict lockdown regulations. Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi says COVID-19 is claiming more lives than the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
According to Dr. Lari, six of Iran's 31 provinces are now hotspots designated as "red zones". On Wednesday Deputy Health Ministry Dr. Alireza Raeesi said people are not following the safety protocols recommended by the ministry so a return of lockdown may be considered again.
He added that respect for health protocols such as social distancing and wearing masks has dropped to 23 from 78 percent at the national level and to 11 percent from 62 in Tehran.
An official of the Governor's Office of East Azarbaijan Province on Tuesday said in Tabriz, the provincial capital, most of the new cases originated in gatherings of families and friends and wedding ceremonies. The situation has deteriorated in the past few days and many of the cities in the province which were designated as orange or green zones have now become red zones, he said.
In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, three prominent physicians urged him to give priority to "preserving people's lives and health to everything else" in adopting coronavirus epidemic policies and reconsider the lifting of the partial lockdown.
Authorities are also concerned that many people are traveling for leisure and transferring the virus from one place to another.