Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Thursday the number of coronavirus deaths has reached 26, amid 245 confirmed cases.
“In the last 24 hours, we have had 106 (new) confirmed cases … The death toll has reached 26,” Jahanpur told state TV.
He also urged Iranians to avoid “unnecessary trips inside the country.”
So far Iran has seen the highest number of deaths registered from the virus outside China. However, authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, said on Wednesday that Iran had no plans to quarantine any “cities and districts” despite the sharp rise in numbers in a short time.
Jahanpur said the large number in new cases came from more labs now testing for the virus, expecting other large increases to be recorded in the coming days.
According to the spokesman, there are plans to impose some restrictions at certain sites and cancel Friday prayers sermons.
“But it needs the approval of the president before being carried out,” he said, adding that hundreds of those suspect of being infected by the virus had recovered and been discharged from hospital, Reuters reported.
Jahanpur also said the government had extended its closure of cinemas and temporary ban on cultural events and conferences for one another week.
Meanwhile, experts are concerned Iran may be underreporting cases and deaths, given the illness’ rapid spread from Iran across the Arabian Gulf.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Thursday praised medical staffers, calling their work “very invaluable.”
However, the virus has struck the official in charge of Iran’s response to the outbreak, as well as a reformist lawmaker.
On Thursday, a cleric from Qom who also serves in parliament posted a video online acknowledging he had been infected, the Associated Press reported.
“Yes, my corona test is positive, too and I am in quarantine,” Mojtaba Zonnouri said in the video.
“God willing, our nation will overcome in fight against corona.”
Also, Iraq’s Health Ministry on Thursday announced the first coronavirus case in the capital, Baghdad, bringing the overall number of cases reported in the country to six. All have been linked to Iran.