Iran reports 11 new coronavirus deaths, total now 77
An Iranian medic treats a patient infected with the COVID-19 virus at a hospital in Tehran. AFP
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 Qom, a centre 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. Of course, we ask God to heal the sick in those countries too," he added.
Iran on Saturday dismissed a BBC Persian report that the real number of coronavirus deaths in the country was more than 200. The United States and Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have accused Iran of concealing information about the outbreak.