Iran’s death toll from coronavirus jumps to 54, with 978 infected

Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize indoor place of Imam Reza’s holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2020. Picture taken February 27, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 54, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, adding that the number of people infected had reached 978.

Iran has had the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outside of China, where the outbreak originated, and several countries in the region have reported infections among people who traveled to the Islamic Republic.

“There were 385 new cases of infected people in the last 24 hours, increasing the total number to 978. The death toll is 54,” Jahanpur said, calling on Iranians to avoid any unnecessary trips and stay at home.

On Saturday the death toll was put at 43, with 593 infected.

Some neighboring countries have closed their borders with Iran and several countries have stopped flights.

Iran will put together approximately 300,000 teams, starting on Tuesday, to perform door-to-door coronavirus screening, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on state TV on Sunday.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have allocated facilities across the country to help to eradicate the virus, a Guards commander told a televised news conference on Sunday.

“We have set up centers across the country to help people to tackle the virus … we need national cooperation to tackle this crisis. People should follow our health officials’ advice,” said the commander, who was not named by Iran’s Press TV.

The spread of the virus in Iran, the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, has prompted growing anxiety among Iranians and concern in some quarters over the clerical establishment’s response.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; additional reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman

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