TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday (Mar 5) reported 15 new deaths from COVID-19 and 591 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the toll to 107 dead and 3,513 infected.
“Until today, samples have been taken of 23,327 suspected cases, only 3,513 of which have been confirmed,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference.
READ: COVID-19 has affected almost all Iran’s provinces
“Unfortunately 15 people have passed away, raising the total number of the dead to 107,” he added, noting that the provinces of Tehran, Qom, Gilan and Esfahan are the worst hit.
The health minister also announced that schools and universities in Iran will be closed until early April.
“People should not consider this as an opportunity to go travelling. They should stay home and take our warnings seriously,” Saeed Namaki said at a televised press conference.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the outbreak has affected almost all of Iran’s provinces.
Rouhanis said Iran would get through the outbreak with minimum deaths and in the shortest period of time with the skills of its doctors and nurses.
He also took a jab at an American offer to help with the coronavirus outbreak without mentioning the United States directly.
READ: US says Iran may have suppressed ‘vital details’ on COVID-19 outbreak
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States had offered to help Iran with the outbreak.
“They’ve appeared with a mask of sympathy that ‘we also want to help the people of Iran’,” Rouhani said. “If you are really telling the truth, then lift sanctions from medicine.”
US President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have hammered Iran’s economy.
US officials have said that the sanctions do not target medicine for Iran, a point that Iranian officials dispute.
Several Iranian officials have been infected with coronavirus since the outbreak was first announced two weeks ago and one senior official died on Monday.