Iran's president said on Friday it is a "source of pride" that the country has managed to reopen businesses while maintaining a "steady decline of the disease." Local authorities in at least eight of the country's 31 provinces, however, say there has been a surge in coronavirus cases since reopening began three weeks ago, the New York Times reports. According to official figures, which are widely believed to be an undercount, new cases have gone from fewer than 1,000 a day immediately after a two-week lockdown in April to 2,294 on Monday. In Khuzestan province, 16 cities have been locked down again after a 300% surge in cases. Federal officials—who have stopped releasing case breakdowns by province—blame the rise in cases on people not wearing masks.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei, a US-based expert on public health in Iran, says the rise in cases was what people feared when Iran lifted its lockdown before it met goals including introducing widespread contact tracing. "Other countries should look to Iran and not do what it did," he tells the Times. "They moved late to close off cities and they opened too early." The figures from Sweden, which decided to rely on voluntary social distancing instead of closures and lockdowns, are also discouraging, reports Reuters. According to Ourworldinsata.org, the country had an average 6.25 coronavirus deaths per million inhabitants per day between May 12 and May 19, the highest number in Europe. (Read more coronavirus stories.)