With COVID-19 deaths alarmingly rising in various Iranian provinces, authorities have to face the dilemma of canceling nationwide university entrance examinations starting next week or risking the lives of more than a million participants.
Fatemeh Zarrin-Amizi, spokesperson of Iran's Educational Evaluation Organization, on Friday said the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce is to decide about the possible postponement of the nationwide university entrance examinations scheduled rescheduled for next month.
Alireza Zali, a health official, said last week the Taskforce and the Governor of Tehran Province believe that all exams should be canceled.
University entrance examinations (known as Konkoor from French Concours) are standardized tests for admission to higher education held simultaneously at various levels (bachelors, masters, Ph.D.) throughout the country once a year in summer. Nearly 1.5 million students have signed up for the tests this year. The Konkoor for this year has already been postponed once.
The Ph.D. entrance exams, the first in the tests, which are to be held on July 17 have not yet been canceled. According to Zarrin-Amizi at the moment Ph.D. applicants with COVID-19 have been asked to inform the organization of their illness for special measures to be adopted to give them the test in safe conditions.
Iran has witnessed a surge in COVID deaths in recent weeks, with consecutive days of above 200 daily deaths.
In her daily briefing on Friday, Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Sima-Sadat Lari, said death of 142 COVID-19 patients has been confirmed on the basis of final test results since Thursday. Since February 12,447 have died of COVID-19 in Iran. According to Dr. Lari 2,262 new cases were identified during the same period, bringing the total cases to 252,720.
Official coronavirus-related statistics in Iran are regarded with doubts over their accuracy and validity. Even some government organizations and local officials have contradicted the official COVID-19 numbers, and some have said the real toll could be several times more.
In some provinces such as Golestan authorities have warned people that they will be prosecuted if they hold large gatherings such as weddings and funerals on charges of "threatening the public's health". Health Ministry officials say most of the new cases originated in weddings and funerals.