Iranian health officials have reduced the number of infected presidents to 25 million

Iranian health officials on Sunday sought to refute the president's estimate that about 25 million people are infected with the coronavirus, saying it was based on serological blood tests that measure the risk of the disease and that the disease could not be trusted to show the current status.

The number of 25 million proposed by Rouhani on Saturday exceeded nearly a third of the population and the official COVID-19 cases. Health case spokesperson Sima Sadat Lata said the number of official cases rose to 273,788 on Sunday, killing 14,188 people.

According to a statement issued by the Iranian Ministry of Health, the number given by the President is based on the numbers produced by a deputy in the Ministry.

"It is not possible to rely on serological tests to confirm the current status of the disease," the statement said.

Serological tests can determine if a person has a disease by showing their antibody response. In coronavirus infection, countries have used these to survey population samples and estimate the overall infection rate - whether people have severe, mild or no COVID-19 symptoms.

Mustafa Kane, head of the government scientific committee of the Coronaires Task Force, said serological tests only revealed that people had been infected with the virus in the past. He said PCR tests of the throat and nose were needed to confirm COVID-19.

Iran's epidemic in the Middle East is very difficult, and sanctions have been growing rapidly in the Middle East since sanctions were eased. However, the number given by Rouhani surprised many Iranians.

Deputy MP Alirza Salimi urged the government to bring in the same official figures for coronavirus cases.

Rouhani, who announced an estimate of 25 million on Saturday, did not say what the number was based on, but also said that 30–35 million more were at risk.

A Coronavirus Task Force official said on Saturday that 25 million "slightly affected patients ... do not need to seek medical advice".

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