Iran reports 49 new coronavirus deaths in highest single-day toll

Iran reports 49 new coronavirus deaths in highest single-day toll
3 min read
08 March, 2020
Iran's coronavirus death toll has increased to 194, authorities confirmed on Sunday.
Iran has the highest death toll outside China [Getty]
Iran's health ministry on Sunday reported 49 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll within 24 hours since the start of the outbreak in the Islamic republic. 

The new count brings the number of those killed by the virus in the country since mid-February to 194, one of the highest tolls outside of China, where the disease originated. The virus has spread to all of Iran's 31 provinces with 6,566 confirmed cases.

The Islamic republic is battling one of the world's deadliest outbreaks of the disease outside China, where it originated.

The capital Tehran remains the worst-hit province in the country, with 1,539 confirmed cases.

The latest death toll on Sunday came as Iran Air announced the suspension of all its flights to Europe until further notice. 

The national carrier said in a statement that the decision was taken due to "restrictions" imposed by European authorities for "unknown reasons". 

Sweden blocked Iran Air flights from landing in the country in recent days, citing concerns over the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in the Islamic republic. 

On Saturday, a newly elected conservative MP for the city was the second Iranian lawmaker killed by the virus, state news agency IRNA reported.

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Fatemeh Rahbar, 55, served as MP from 2004 to 2016 and was  among the top candidates in Tehran for the conservatives, who overwhelmingly won February's general election marked by the lowest turnout in the Islamic republic's history.

Seven other politicians and government officials have died in the outbreak since the country reported its first cases in mid-February.

Iran has closed schools and universities until early April, as well as suspended major cultural and sporting events and reduced working hours across the country to slow the contagion, which has spread to all of its 31 provinces.

The number of infections is climbing in northern provinces in particular, Jahanpour said.

More than 300 of the new cases reported on Saturday were in Mazandaran province, a popular tourist destination north of Tehran on the Caspian sea.

"Mazandaran is at the top of the list because the necessary limitations (on domestic travelling) were not imposed," Jahanpour added.

"Considering that a minority are not taking the situation seriously and risk their own and others' health, imposing limitations is now on the agenda."

Several provinces, including in northern and central Iran, have said they will not provide lodging to tourists in an effort to dissuade people from travelling.

Read more: How Gulf countries succeeded where Iran failed on containing coronavirus

Gilan and Mazandaran police from Friday started preventing cars without local license plates from entering the provinces.

But according to an adviser to the health minster Alireza Vahabzadeh, some locals were bypassing the restrictions by giving non-residents lifts across province borders. 

In a tweet, he urged people to "cooperate" with the authorities.

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