The global death toll from the coronavirus is almost 685,500, with nearly 18 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.

Iran

Iranian officials said on August 2 that the latest one-day rise in confirmed coronavirus infections there was the highest in nearly a month.

Home to the Middle East’s worst COVID-19 outbreak after the pathogen emerged in central China late last year, Iran has seen a gradual return of cases in the holy city of Qom and other population centers that were hard hit in the initial stages of the pandemic.

AFP quoted Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari as saying 2,685 people had tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, the highest count since July 8.

She called the epidemiological situation “concerning” in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces.

Iran has the ninth-most infections of any country at more than 306,000. The resulting disease, COVID-19, has killed nearly 17,000 Iranians, the 10th-highest death toll in the world.

Iranian media also reported that 79-year-old filmmaker Khosro Sinai had died of the virus on August 1.

Sinai, perhaps best-known for his film Long Live, was the first Iranian film director to win an international prize after the country’s 1979 revolution.

Even with the local outbreak taking a worrisome trajectory, Iran’s main stock exchange eclipsed the 2-million-point mark for the first time in its history on August 2, according to local media.

Analysts warn that the Tehran Stock Exchange’s stubborn rise risks leaving investors exposed to a market bubble, AFP said, against a backdrop of slumping economic indicators and exchange-rate woes from the coronavirus outbreak and pressures from U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s clerical leadership has been encouraging Iranians to invest in local stocks to boost the economy.

Based on reporting by AFP

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