The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

A health assistant disinfects a bed in Firoozabadi hospital's Covid-19 ward in Tehran, Iran, on March 20. 
A health assistant disinfects a bed in Firoozabadi hospital’s Covid-19 ward in Tehran, Iran, on March 20.  Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Iran has entered its fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and has reached a four-month high in terms of number of daily cases, health ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said in a news conference on Monday.

“The Covid-19 pandemic in the country is very widespread and is a matter of deep concern, and the fourth wave is rapidly progressing from mid-western parts of the country to mid-eastern cities,” Lari said.

The ministry reported at least 13,890 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, increasing the country’s total cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,945,964. The country also reported 172 new Covid-19 related deaths, bringing the country’s death toll to 63,332 on Monday, as at least 4,095 patients remain hospitalized in intensive care units, Lari said.

The health ministry also announced 88 cities have been categorized as “Red Zones” in Iran, where for two weeks on average more than three people per one hundred thousand are hospitalized.

Iran’s health ministry has been anticipating a spike in cases and death toll, as people begin to return from holiday travel and celebratory gatherings on the occasion of the two-week long Persian New Year holiday, or Nowruz, which began on March 21.

Iran has the most severe Covid-19 outbreak in the Middle East, with the highest number of cases and deaths in the region.

The country continues to keep restrictions in place to avoid a larger outbreak of cases.

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