Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has referred to a virus in Iran's neighborhood that is "more dangerous" than COVID-19.
Speaking at a session on Saturday of the Coronavirus Fight National Headquarters in Tehran, Rouhani claimed, "I have heard that there is a disease in our neighborhood similar to pneumonia, and I have heard that it is more dangerous than the coronavirus."
Rouhani was allegedly referring to Kazakhstan as the site of the disease, with several Chinese news websites recently publishing reports quoting several local officials saying that a virus "more deadly than coronavirus" had spread in Kazakhstan, which Kazakhstan denied. Rouhani did not cite any data to back up his claims about the disease's relative danger.
A claim which was later rejected by Kazakh officials as "fake news."
Urging people to take more precautions during the fall, Rouhani noted that Iranians should be careful even after a vaccine for coronavirus is produced.
"Even if the corona vaccine is available, we must maintain our current lifestyle," he said, adding, "Some statistics say that there are people in the country who have had infected with coronavirus again, and have been hospitalized. Therefore, one cannot hope for a 100% effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine."
Rouhani called on the Iranian people to avoid becoming bored with the health restrictions and social distancing protocol, and get used to the new lifestyle in the long term.
On Friday, Iran's Deputy Health Minister announced that the country's coronavirus outbreak had reached a "semi-explosive" state and that all provinces were once again under red alert.