Middle East Desk
Tehran: Iran on Monday announced 127 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the official toll to 1,812 in one of the worst hit countries along with Italy, Spain and China.
Health ministry spokesman Kianouche Jahanpour said 1,411 new cases had been recorded in Iran over the past 24 hours, bringing the total of those infected to 23,049. Jahanpour, who was speaking during his daily news conference devoted to the pandemic, said he would no longer give a breakdown of cases by province.
This was necessary, he said, to avoid sparking undue concern among residents of the most stricken areas and ensure that those in less affected zones remained cautious. All of Iran’s 31 provinces have been hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Tolls provided by the health ministry in recent days indicated that the spread of the virus has worsened especially in northern and central regions of Iran.
Jahanpour renewed a call by authorities for people to stay at home until “the virus is conquered”.
That call has come as the Islamic republic is celebrating the Iranian New Year, a time when people usually travel far and wide across the country for holidays and family reunions.
Authorities, however, have not imposed any travel ban or lockdown on Iran where the Nowruz holiday continues until April 3.
On Sunday the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Iranians to follow state instructions “so that Almighty God will put an end to this calamity for the Iranian people, for all Muslim nations and for all mankind”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of lying about the coronavirus pandemic as the Supreme Leader rejected US assistance for his hard-hit country. In a televised address Sunday, Khamenei described the United States as “charlatans” and charged that Washington could bring in a drug to keep the virus alive. Pompeo in a statement also used loaded language, accusing “Iran’s chief terror airline” Mahan Air of bringing in what he called the “Wuhan virus” through its continued flights to China.
“The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits,” Pompeo said. He said that the United States remained open to offering aid and was “working tirelessly” to develop a vaccine.