Iran announced 144 fresh deaths due the coronavirus infection were reported in the country on Friday (March 27), taking its official death count to 2,378.
Its health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,926 new confirmed cases have surfaced in the past 24 hours. “This brings the overall confirmed cases to at least 32,332,” he said in a televised news conference. He said 11,133 of those hospitalised so far have recovered.
Jahanpour said nearly 2,900 of those infected are in a “severe” condition, and that the rising number of confirmed cases was due to Iranians increasingly “self-declaring” symptoms and undergoing testing.
The ministry has repeatedly called on citizens to visit a website and report potential symptoms. The data, together with their phone number and ID, is used to identify potential cases. Iran has also imposed strict new containment measures, after weeks of public appeals largely failed to deter hundreds of thousands taking to the roads to visit family for the Persian New Year holidays.
State television on Friday showed police checkpoints at Tehran’s entrances and exits preventing residents leaving and non-residents entering. It said motorists were identified by their car plates and IDs and that several vehicles were impounded and drivers fined for violating the measures.
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“Since a small number of the people do not heed warnings, we are now forced to talk to them” through forceful measures, First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
The Islamic republic has already closed schools, universities and key Shiite pilgrimage sites, cancelled the main weekly Friday prayers and temporarily shut parliament.
Meanwhile, the total number of cases worldwide has crossed the half-million mark while the global toll is nearing 25,000. Currently, the United States has the highest number of cases, over 85,000. Italy has reported the most number of deaths, 8,215, among the worst-affected countries.
(With inputs from agencies)