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Six hundred and twenty-five Iranians lost their lives to COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to a statement by the country’s Health Ministry. The figure was virtually unchanged from Monday, when the death toll was 620. Alireza Zali, president of Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, said that the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals has increased 10 percent from the previous week. Two weeks ago, when the official daily death toll was still below 400, an infectious diseases expert estimated that the actual figure was between 700 and 800.

According to a report in Etemad newspaper, there is a growing campaign demanding that those responsible for mishandling the pandemic and failing to import sufficient vaccines be held legally accountable. In an interview with ILNA (Iranian Labor News Agency), Abdollah Samami, vice president of the Iran Central Bar Association, said that under Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code, “disrupting the public health system” and committing criminal acts “against the physical integrity of individuals” is punishable as “corruption on the earth”—that is, as a capital offense. Samami called on the attorney general to declare that such crimes have occurred—as with, for instance, the failure to provide vaccines—and to pursue the relevant officials for prosecution.

Despite reports indicating that only 4.4 million people (just over 5 percent of Iran’s population) have been fully vaccinated, the current social studies textbook approved by the Ministry of Education states that Iran is among the countries that have most successfully handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

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