Islamic Republic reports 2,336 infections, with virus spreading quickly; Khamenei urges public to observe hygiene measures, touts country’s ‘transparency’.
Iran’s health ministry announced on Tuesday that 11 more people had died from the new coronavirus in the past day, bringing the Islamic Republic’s overall death toll to 77.
In all, 2,336 people have been infected, including 835 new cases — the biggest increase in a single day since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the country nearly two weeks ago.
“According to the latest figures, 835 new patients have been added” to the overall number of infections, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in remarks aired live on state television.
“Unfortunately, we have 11 new deaths, and with this amount we have reached 2,336 new confirmed cases and a total of 77 dead.”
Iran announced on February 19 its first two deaths from the coronavirus in the city of Qom, a center for Islamic studies and pilgrims from abroad.
It now has the highest death toll for any country outside China, where the virus has killed more than 2,900 people since late December.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iranians to stick to hygiene guidelines to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.
“The health care guidelines for preventing infection from this virus should be observed,” Khamenei, who was wearing gloves as he planted a tree, said on state television.
The supreme leader said Iran was being transparent with its figures on the outbreak and accused other countries of trying to conceal them.
“The #Coronavirus has affected many countries,” he was quoted as saying on his official Twitter account.
“Our officials have reported with sincerity and transparency since day one. However, some countries where the outbreak has been more serious have tried to hide it,” Khamenei said. “Of course, we ask God to heal the sick in those countries too.”
An Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday reportedly called for his colleagues to stop their contact with public as there are 23 cases of the new coronavirus among parliament members.
An adviser to Khamenei, Mohammad Mirmohammadi, died at a Tehran hospital on Monday after falling sick from the virus, becoming the first top official to succumb to the illness.
Iran on Saturday dismissed a BBC Persian report that the real number of coronavirus deaths in the country was more than 200.
Experts worry that Iran’s reported high rate of deaths, some 5.5 percent of infections, suggests the number of people carrying the illness in the country may be far higher than the current figures show.
The United States and Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have accused Iran of concealing information about the outbreak.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has infected over 90,000 globally and killed over 3,000. Israel has had 12 confirmed cases and no deaths.