Iran reports 21 new coronavirus deaths, raising total to 145
Iranian fire fighters and municipality workers disinfect a street in Tehran for corona virus COVID-19. AFP
Iran on Saturday reported 21 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and 1,076 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tolls to 145 dead and 5,823 infected.
"More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalised as suspect cases," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference as he announced the tolls.
He added that 1,669 of confirmed cases have recovered from the illness. The Islamic republic is battling one of the world's deadliest outbreaks of the disease outside China, where it originated.
Iran's capital Tehran remains the worst-hit province in the country, with 1,539 confirmed cases, though the situation is worsening in northern provinces.
More than 300 of the new cases were reported in Mazandaran province, a top tourist destination north of Tehran on the Caspian sea. "Mazandaran is at the top of the list because the necessary limitations (on domestic travelling) were not imposed," Jahanpour said. "Considering that a minority are not taking the situation seriously and risk their own and others' health, imposing limitations is now on the agenda."
Iran has closed schools and universities until early April in a bid to contain the virus, but upcoming holidays have prompted people to travel, especially to popular destinations in northern provinces, Jahanpour said on Friday.
Several provinces, including in the north and middle of the country, have said they will not provide any lodging to tourists in an effort to dissuade people from travelling.