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Iran Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 77, More Than 2330 Infected Including 23 Lawmakers

An Iranian medic treats a patient infected with the COVID-19 virus at a hospital in Tehran, March 1, 2020

Iran’s Deputy Health Minister on Tuesday announced that with 11 more people dead of coronavirus infection, the death toll in the country has now reached 77 while a member of Parliament said 23 MPs have now tested positive.

Speaking to the state-run television Alireza Raeesi (Raisi) said 835 new cases have been diagnosed since yesterday, pushing the number of the infected to 2,336. According to Raeesi 435 people have so far survived the illness.

Raeesi also Qom, Tehran and Gilan are still the provinces with the highest number of cases.

Many in Iran however challenge the figures announced by the government and believe the contagion has spread much wider and the death toll is more than what the government says. With reports of more deaths emerging, the figures announced by officials get closer to the ratios registered between deaths and infections in China.

Previously, the death toll in Iran was much higher compared with the official number of infected cases, reaching to more than 10 percent. The new ratio is slightly over 3 percent.

Several MPs have also questioned the official death toll and criticized the government for its late response and inadequate preventive measures against the coronavirus epidemic.

On Tuesday Shahaboddin Bimeqdar (Bimeghdar), an MP from Tabriz, told ISNA that if the city of Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak in Iran, had been quarantined the virus would not have spread so much. He also criticized the delay in stopping flights between Iran and China.

Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament on Tuesday announced that so far 23 MPs have tested positive for coronavirus.

Abdolreza Mesri claimed that he high number of infected lawmakers is understandable due to “their close contact with people” but advised MPs and the elected representatives of the next parliament to cut their contacts with people as a preventative measure.

According to Iranian news agencies, Ahmad Toysirkani, one of the advisers of the Chief Justice has passed away of coronavirus infection. Pir-Hossein Kolivand, the Head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services has also tested positive for COVID-19 now and is in quarantine.