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Coronavirus Cases Rise To Tens Of Thousands In Iran, Forcing Travel Restrictions

A hospital worker dealing with the coronavirus epidemic in Iran. March 23, 2020

The official number of coronavirus victims in Iran reached 2,077 on Wednesday, March 25, the health ministry spokesman announced. With 143 new deaths, the epidemic does not show any signs of slowing down.

The health ministry also said cases of the COVID-19 disease climbed to 27,017, with 2,200 new cases in one day. An independent estimate by Radio Farda based on a systematic collection of information from local media put infection cases at more than 55,000 as of Tuesday.

Iran’s official numbers of deaths and infections have been questioned by independent media. Iran only counts cases that have tested positive, but many people with acute symptoms are not tested or are diagnosed with “respiratory” problems or suffering from “influenza”.

Three weeks ago, Iran ranked as one of the hardest hit countries along with Italy, but now many Western countries show much higher numbers. Iran has been methodically showing limited, incremental daily rises in new cases of infection and deaths, while the epidemic acts differently in most countries, with sudden jumps in cases after the epidemic takes root.

A World Health Organization expert who visited Iran earlier this month, later told Reuters that actual numbers could be five times higher in the country.

On Wednesday, the government finally decided to impose travel restrictions and basic rules of social distancing, after weeks of resisting any sort of quarantine.