DUBAI (Reuters) - One person is dying from COVID-19 every seven minutes in Iran, state television said on Monday, as the Health Ministry reported 215 new deaths from the disease and state media warned of a lack of proper social distancing.
Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari was quoted by the state TV as saying the 215 deaths in the past 24 hours took the combined death toll to 17,405 in Iran, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,598 to 312,035.
State television showed several Iranians in a busy Tehran street without wearing face masks or social distancing.
Some experts have doubted the accuracy of Iran's official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research centre in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.
The report said that Iran's official coronavirus figures were based only on the number of deaths in hospitals and those who had already tested positive for the coronavirus.
British broadcaster BBC reported on Monday that, based on data from an anonymous source, the number of deaths in Iran might be three times higher than officially reported. Iranian health authorities denied the report and said there had been no cover-up.
With COVID-19 deaths surging since restrictions were eased in mid-April, Iranian authorities have said measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be reimposed if health regulations are not observed. Since last month, wearing face masks in public places and covered spaces has been mandatory.
Iran's National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce was expected to announce later on Monday whether nationwide university entrance examinations, with over 1 million participants, will take place in August. Many Iranians have called on social media for the examinations to be postponed.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Timothy Heritage)