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Iran Reports 157 New Coronavirus Deaths Amid New Strict Measures

Iran Reports 157 New Coronavirus Deaths Amid New Strict Measures

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 14:00
Iranian firefighters disinfect streets in the capital Tehran in a bid to halt the wild spread of coronavirus. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran on Thursday announced 157 new deaths from new pandemic, raising the official number of fatalities to 2,234, as it announced a ban on intercity travel to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour confirmed that 2,389 new cases have been registered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of declared infections in one of the world's wost-hit countries to 29,406.

"Fortunately, until today 10,457 of those infected have recovered and been discharged from hospitals," he told a news conference.

Jahanpour said that the spread of the new coronavirus and its rate of infection was "growing steadily" in Iran which imposed strict new containment measures Thursday.

"Those who were planning to travel, cancel it right from this moment," said Hossein Zolfaghari, a senior official at Iran's anti-coronavirus committee, AFP reported.

"Those who are out travelling should return home quickly," he added in a televised announcement while announcing details of new measures.

Zolfaghari said non-residents will not be allowed into cities based on their car plates and drivers' IDs, and violators will be fined and their cars impounded.

"All official and non-official gatherings... are also banned," the official said, without elaborating further.

President Hassan Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting he hoped the "more strict measures" would help to curb the virus, adding that the government was going to ask Iran's supreme leader for permission to draw $1 billion from its national development fund to address "the coronavirus' complexities and issues, especially the medical sector's needs".

Separately, US navy veteran Michael White who was released from an Iranian prison last week was hospitalized Wednesday in a ward for coronavirus patients.

He has experienced fever, fatigue, a cough and shortness of breath since his furlough last week, according to a statement from Jon Franks, a family spokesman, The Associated Press reported.

White “is an immunocompromised cancer patient and his situation is urgent," Franks said.

He has been tested for the coronavirus but the results have not come back, the spokesman added.

White was detained in July 2018 while on a visit in Iran and was later convicted of insulting Iran's supreme leader and posting private information.

He is among tens of thousands of prisoners granted medical furloughs by Iran as the country tries to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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