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COVID-19: Iran Surpasses 1,000 Deaths With Highest 24-Hour Rise Yet

03/18/20

Source: RFE/RL

The global coronavirus pandemic has infected nearly 200,000 people worldwide, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.


Official Iran's statistics on coronavirus as of March 18
Infections: 17,361
Deaths: 1,135
New Cases: 1,192
Recovered: 5,710

Iran's death toll from the coronavirus has reached 1,135, with 147 deaths over the past 24 hours -- the highest 24-hour rise yet -- state TV reported on March 18, as President Hassan Rohani defended his government's response to the outbreak.

Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, with a total of 16,169 confirmed cases, roughly 90 percent of the region's cases.

Iran has been accused of acting too slowly and of even covering up initial cases.

But Rohani on March 18 rejected criticism of his government's response to the coronavirus outbreak, telling a government meeting that authorities have been "straightforward" with the nation, and that it had announced the outbreak as soon as it learned about it on February 19.

"We spoke to people in a honest way. We had no delay," Rohani said.

Government officials pleaded for weeks with clerics to completely close crowded holy shrines to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The government finally shut down the shrines this week.

"It was difficult of course to shut down mosques and holy sites, but we did it. It was a religious duty to do it," Rohani said.

The outbreak has cast a shadow over the Persian New Year, Norouz, that begins on March 20.

Iran warned on March 17 that "millions" could die in the Islamic republic if people keep traveling and ignore health guidance.



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