Iran's COVID-19 death toll rises above 100,000 -health ministry

FILE PHOTO: Tightening of restrictions to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases, in Tehran
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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 exceeded 100,000 on Thursday with 564 fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours, state TV said, as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spread through the Middle East's worst-hit country.

State television, citing Iran's health ministry, said the total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections had reached 4,587,683 including 31,266 new cases since Wednesday.

"The total number of deaths from COVID-19 has reached 100,255," the TV reported.

Since Monday, Iran has imposed tougher nationwide restrictions to stem a fifth wave of the respiratory disease, including travel curbs and closures of non-essential businesses.

The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past weeks has forced Iran's rulers to permit imports of vaccines made by U.S. and British companies, which Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had forbidden in January.

Social media users inside and outside Iran have accused the Islamic Republic's clerical establishment of being slow to vaccinate people - only about five million of the 83 million population have been fully inoculated.

Iranian authorities have blamed U.S. sanctions for problems in procuring foreign vaccines and delays in deliveries.

Food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are exempt from U.S. sanctions reimposed on Tehran in 2018 after then President Donald Trump abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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