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Iran coronavirus death toll rises as number of cases increase

Nearly 1,000 cases have been confirmed in Iran [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 March, 2020

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The total number of coronavirus cases in Iran have increased to 978, Iranian authorities said on Sunday, noting at least 11 died in 24 hours.
Iran's health ministry on Sunday reported 11 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and 385 infections, bringing the overall number of lives lost to 54 and cases to 978.

"Eleven people lost their lives" in the past 24 hours, spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference, adding that testing across the country showed there were 385 new cases.

Tehran has dismissed as "rumours" a BBC Persian report, citing unnamed sources in the Islamic republic's health system, that at least 210 people have so far died from the outbreak inside the country.

While Iran has rejected the claim as rumour, it has has scrambled to bring the outbreak under control, shutting schools, suspending cultural and sporting events.

Read also: Family fear Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has contracted novel coronavirus in Iranian jail

It has even halted meetings of the cabinet and parliament, amid the disease's spread among the country's political elite.

On Saturday, recently-elected Iranian MP Mohammad Ali Ramazani died after being tested positive for the deadly virus a few days earlier, The Independent reported.

Iran's coronavirus death toll is the highest for any country other than China - where COVID-19 first emerged.

One of Iran's seven vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi are among several senior officials who have been infected.

Many of Iran's neighbours have reported coronavirus infections in people linked to Iran, and most have imposed restrictions on travel to and from the Islamic republic.

On Wednesday, Iranian authorities announced domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected infections.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump declared his readiness to assist Iran in its fight against the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.

"If we can help the Iranians with this problem, we are certainly willing to do so...All they have to do is ask. We will have great professionals over there," Trump said at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Iran to "tell the truth" about its outbreak, amid allegations of a cover-up in the state, a staunch adversary of the Trump administration.

Pompeo claimed that Iran, along with China, the epicentre of the virus, could have better contained their respective outbreaks if they allowed free expression, saluting foreign journalists who had reported the epidemic.

The United States, which has no diplomatic ties with Iran since 1980, pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal with the country and reimposed crippling sanctions in 2018 that have heavily hit its infrastructure, including its healthcare sector. 

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