Iran's Covid cases pass three million mark
Iran's confirmed Covid-19 cases surpassed the three million mark on Thursday, the health ministry said, while daily cases and deaths continued a downward trend ahead of a presidential poll, AFP reports.
The Islamic republic, battling the Middle East's deadliest coronavirus outbreak, is preparing to hold its presidential election on June 18.
The country has been struggling since late March to contain its "fourth wave" of Covid-19 blamed on a surge in trips made during Persian New Year Holidays.
Tehran has pinned hopes on vaccinations to help combat the health crisis, but the rollout of its innoculation campaign started in early February has progressed more slowly that authorities had wanted.
In the past 24 hours, the country officially recorded 12,398 new cases of infection, the health ministry announced.
Iran also recorded an additional 153 coronavirus-related deaths, it said, bringing the total to 81,672.
Daily infections and fatalities have been on a downward trajectory since their peaks of 25,582 on April 14 and 496 on April 26, respectively.
Election campaigning, initially a cause of concern for spreading the virus, kicked off in late May with little fanfare and much of it taking place on social media.
But ultraconservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, who is seen as the frontrunner, delivered a speech during a rally at a packed stadium in southwestern Iran late Wednesday, drawing criticism for not observing health protocols.
State news agency IRNA said "more than 50,000" people attended the event at Ahvaz city's Takhti football stadium, filling the seats and the field itself.
"Not observing social distancing and health protocols was very evident at the event," it said.