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Iranian Official: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reaches 1,566

Iranian Official: Death Toll From Coronavirus Reaches 1,566

Saturday, 21 March, 2020 - 09:15
Iranian couple wearing protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Saturday reaching 1,556, and the total number of people infected now exceeds 20,000, a health ministry official said.


The total number of people diagnosed with the disease stood at 20,610 on Saturday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on state TV.


However, despite the rising death toll, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that social distancing measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, including travel restrictions, will apply for only two to three weeks as he expects the crisis to ease by then.


Iran "has to do everything necessary to return economic production to normal," he said in comments broadcast on state TV.


Rouhani, who also accused "counter-revolutionaries" of plotting to shut down economic production, made his statements despite the rising number of virus deaths across the country.


In earlier statements, Rouhani promised to beat the new coronavirus and defended his government’s response to the pandemic in the face of widespread criticism that officials acted too slowly and may have even covered up initial cases before infections spread rapidly across the country.


“We will put the coronavirus behind us soon with unity, with hard work and with cooperation,” he said.


Rouhani also assured Iranians that his administration will prioritize health in the coming year and said it had stockpiled basic supplies, the Associated Press reported.


Iran is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic outside of China.


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