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Iranian Official: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reaches 724

Iranian Official: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reaches 724

Sunday, 15 March, 2020 - 10:15
FILE PHOTO: Iranian women wear protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus, as they walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS

Iran said on Sunday that the new coronavirus has killed 113 people in the past 24 hours, raising the country's death toll to 724, a health ministry official said in a tweet.

The number of infected people had reached 13,938, added Alireza Vahabzadeh, an adviser to Iran's health minister.

Earlier, Iran's official leading the country's response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East on Sunday acknowledged that the pandemic could overwhelm health facilities in the country.

The country's authorities have pledged to set up mobile clinics as needed and called on people to avoid unnecessary trips and stay at home.

“If the trend continues, there will not be enough capacity,” Ali Reza Zali, who is leading the campaign against the outbreak, was quoted as saying by the state-run IRNA news agency.

Zali also acknowledged that “many” of those who have died from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus were otherwise healthy, a rare admission by local authorities that the virus does not only prey on the sick and elderly.

The Health Ministry released figures showing that while 55% of fatalities were in their 60s, some 15% were younger than 40, the Associated Press reported.

In Iran, the virus has even infected a number of senior officials, including the senior vice president, Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members and Health Ministry officials.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday ruled out a general quarantine and said the government was working to keep the borders open.

The country has also struggled to respond in part because of crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. The US says it has offered humanitarian aid but that Iran has rejected it.

Countries across the Middle East have imposed sweeping travel restrictions, cancelled public events and in some cases called on non-essential businesses to close for the coming weeks.

The virus has infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed more than 5,700. M

ore than 70,000 people worldwide have recovered after being infected.

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