Iran's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi reported that his country continues to expand its hospital capacity as a preventive measure against a possible worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 3,452 people so far.
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In the last 24 hours, 2,560 new cases and 158 deaths have been confirmed, bringing the total count to 55,743 infected, of whom 4,103 are in serious condition. So far, 19,736 patients have been discharged from hospitals that are not yet saturated.
Harirchi said Iranian doctors "have never had to refuse to transfer patients over 70 years to intensive care units" and that there have been elderly people who have recovered.
While the situation is apparently not critical in hospitals or ICUs, thousands of additional beds are being enabled in other spaces such as fairgrounds to be used if necessary as convalescence centers.
One of these centers has been installed in Tehran's huge and luxurious Iran Mall, where the 1,000-bed installation was completed. At the moment, this place only houses 25 but it has capacity for 3,000 patients.
During his visit to this hospital, Harirchi explained that the Armed Forces have prepared another 10,000 beds.
"The vast majority of those extra beds that we have enabled have not been used, but we need them as prevention in crisis management," he stressed.
The Deputy Health Minister expressed his hope that "it will never be necessary to use them" and indicated that this will be possible if citizens respect social distancing.
"In most of the provinces, we have passed the highest level of the pandemic and the process is descending, but that does not mean that we reduce our control measures," Harirchi added.
Regarding the country's diagnostic capacity , he noted that authorities have already monitored the health status of 69 million people by phone or the Internet.
Additionally, the country has also "significantly increased" the ability to carry out tests.