Iran coronavirus death toll rises 134 to 3,294

Iran on Friday announced 134 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the officially confirmed total to 3,294.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 2,715 new infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours. Taking the total to 53,183.

Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and has been struggling to contain the outbreak since it reported its first deaths on February 19. Jahanpour said 17,935 of those hospitalised with the virus had recovered, while 4,035 were in a critical condition.

The government has banned all intercity travel until at least April 8, and has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home. There is no official lockdown inside Iran s cities.

President Hassan Rouhani warned on Thursday that there was no quick fix and that Iran might have to battle the pandemic for another year. Authorities have closed schools and universities as well as four key Shiite pilgrimage destinations. Including the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, the city where the first deaths were reported. They have also cancelled the main weekly Friday prayers and temporarily closed parliament.

On Thursday, Iran s parliament speaker tested positive for COVID-19,, becoming the latest official to contract the disease in the hard hit country. Ali Larijani “was tested for coronavirus after showing certain symptoms, and as the result was positive. He is currently in quarantine and undergoing treatment,” the report said. Larijani, 62, is close to the Iranian leadership and president and was re-elected in 2016 for a second term as parliament speaker. He is one of the most senior officials to be infected so far.

Iran has been scrambling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Since it reported its first cases on February 19. Earlier Thursday Iran had reported 124 new deaths from the coronavirus. Raising its total to 3,160 with more than 50,000 people infected.

The announcement came as President Hasan Rouhani warned at a cabinet meeting. That the country may still battle the pandemic for another year. “Coronavirus is not something for which we can point to a certain date and say it will be completely eradicated by then,” he said.

Rouhani said the virus “may be with us in upcoming months, or until the end” of the current Iranian year, in March 2021. The virus has not spared Iranian lawmakers or other officials.

At least 23 of the legislature s 290 members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus so far, state news agency IRNA said on Tuesday.

COVID-19 has also killed at least 12 serving or former government officials, according to official reports.

After weeks of refraining from imposing a lockdown or quarantine measures. Tehran decided last week to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.

There is no official lockdown within Iran s cities. Although the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.

Iran has closed schools and universities as well as four key Shiite pilgrimage sites. Including the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, Iran s epicentre for the virus.

It has also discouraged travel, cancelled the main weekly Friday prayers and temporarily closed parliament.

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