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Iran Announces Closure Of Universities, Schools As Coronavirus Death Toll Rises

Iranians, some wearing protective masks, wait to cross a street in the capital Tehran on February 22, 2020.

Iran's health ministry announced three more deaths from coronavirus to 8 in total, the second highest in the world after China. The number of those infected was also raised from 28 to 43 people.

While most of the deaths are from the central province of Qom, four victims died in the capital city, Tehran.

Iran’s Ministry of Health also announced the closure of universities, higher educational institutions and schools in several cities and provinces to reduce the spread of Covid-19 virus.

Universities and colleges will be closed until the end of the Iranian week, February 29 in Tehran, Alborz Qazvin Qom, Isfahan and several other provinces. Schools will be closed in Tehran and a few other provinces for two days to conduct de-contamination operations.

The decision comes amid fears that the virus has spread in many areas of the country, with six people dead more infections reported. Based on the casualty rate and compared with the death rate in China, the number of infected patients can be over 200 in Iran. So far, officials have announced 28 cases.

While for weeks there were rumors of the disease in Iran, authorities announced the first cases only last Wednesday, February 19, when the first two victims died.

An official in Tehran announced schools will be closed on Sunday and Monday for disinfection, so students can return “in maximum safety”.

It is not clear why universities are closed all week, while officials still plan to reopen schools in mid-week “if conditions are favorable”. Iranian week starts on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Science issued a directive to ban visitors from university dorms and close student camps and swimming pools.

All movie theaters and other cultural venues will also remain closed for a week.