(Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that 25 million Iranians have been infected with the coronavirus and that another 35 million were at risk of acquiring it as Iran reimposed restrictions in the capital and elsewhere.
The figures Rouhani cited in a televised speech were far higher than Saturday’s official toll of 271,606.
His office said they were based on “an estimated scenario” from a report by the health ministry’s deputy minister of research.
“Our estimate is that until now 25 million Iranians have been infected with this virus and about 14,000 have lost their dear lives,” Rouhani said in the speech. “There is the possibility that between 30 and 35 million other people will be at risk.”
He said more than 200,000 people had been hospitalised and that the ministry expected that number to double in the coming months.
Authorities on Saturday reimposed one-week restrictions in the capital Tehran including banning religious and cultural functions, closing boarding schools, cafes, indoor pools, amusement parks and zoos.
The Health Ministry reported 188 deaths in the past 24 hours to take Iran’s total to 13,979.
Iran, with a population of more than 80 million, has been the Middle East country hardest hit by the epidemic, with infections and deaths rising sharply since restrictions were eased beginning in mid-April.
From Sunday, 22 cities and towns in the southwestern Khuzestan Province will be under a three-day lockdown, the province’s governorate announced on Saturday.
That will include Behbahan, where police on Thursday fired tear gas into a crowd protesting over economic hardships.
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