Iran's Health Ministry: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reached 26

Iran's Health Ministry: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reached 26

Coronavirus-hit Iran cancelled the main congregational Friday prayers in Tehran and 22 major cities for the first time in decades in a bid to check the disease's spread even as the Health Ministry warned of more cases, reports said.

Iran's economy has been battered by USA sanctions since Donald Trump quit the nuclear deal in 2015, contributing to shortages of masks and medical testing kits. It came as Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour urged Iranians to avoid "nonessential travel", particularly to the hard-hit provinces of the country such as Gilan and Qom.

Nineteen Iranians have died from the illness so far, and the country has the highest number of cases in the Middle East.

It has closed schools, universities, cultural centres, sporting events and deployed teams of sanitary workers to disinfect buses, trains and public spaces.

Three new cases reported in Friday in Bahrain took the total diagnosed with the coronavirus there to 36, and two new cases reported by Kuwait took the total infected there to 45.

The head of the Medical Science University in the holy city of Qom, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, expressed concern over "the spread of those people infected by the virus across the city", adding the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures linked to the coronavirus.

On Tuesday Iranian deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi announced that he had contracted coronavirus.

They were handed over to the judiciary, while 118 other internet users were briefly detained and received warnings, Vahid Majid said, cited by semi-official news agency ISNA.

In his subsequent video, Haririchi confirmed he had been infected with the virus and had quarantined himself at home.

"We shouldn't let America mount a new virus on top of coronavirus that is called... extreme fear", Rouhani told a weekly cabinet meeting, a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of suppressing information about the outbreak.

"My corona test is positive".

Iran has the highest number of coronavirus deaths outside China, where the virus emerged in December and more than 2,600 have died.

Fifteen new COVID-19 cases surfaced in the Shiite holy city of Qom, nine in Gilan, four in Tehran, three in Khuzestan, two each in Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyerahmad, and Fars, and one in Markazi, Kermanshah, Ardebil, Mazandaran, Lorestan, Semnan and Hormozgan, he said.

Some neighbouring countries closed their borders.

The plane was actually shot down by Iranian Revolutionary Guards at the height of Tehran's stand-off with Washington after the death of Qassem Soleimani.

'Widespread public mistrust regarding the official figures is more risky than the coronavirus, ' journalist Siavash Fallahpour said.

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