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Iran Health Official Warns Against Too Much Optimism Over Coronavirus In Tehran

Emergency medical staff and nurses wearing protective suits, help while transferring a patient with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to Masih Daneshvari Hospital, in Tehran, March 30, 2020

The Commander of Coronavirus Combat Taskforce of Tehran on Thursday warned the authorities that despite a decline in the number of patients in the capital, the situation is not stable enough yet to discontinue social distancing measures.

"The biggest mistake that can happen is to think that we have overcome the crisis," Alireza Zali said. "We may have to face dire circumstances if we do not continue the strict and effective measures that have been adopted," he said and warned that thinking the situation is under complete control because there are fewer cases now would be "a grave strategic mistake".

On March 31 President Hassan Rouhani said the number of cases was showing a decline and the situation regarding the epidemic in 23 of Iran's 31 provinces was "acceptable".

Iran has not implemented a quarantine in Tehran or other cities but has ordered schools, shops, cultural and sports events and religious gatherings including Friday prayers to shut down. Travel between cities has also been restricted. The measures are to continue to be implemented until April 8 but no decision has yet been made about measures after that.

"Social-distancing measures have only been implemented for a few days and those who left the city for the [Iranian] New Year holidays have not returned yet," Dr Zali said about the situation in Tehran and advised people to continue staying home to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

So far the Iranian government has not disclosed the number of coronavirus deaths in Tehran, giving rise to speculations that the number of cases and deaths in the capital and Tehran Province are very high.

According to the latest official announcement on April 3, with 134 more deaths across the country Iran's death toll has risen to 3,294 and more than 53,000 have been infected. Iran's Health Ministry figures only include cases that have been confirmed by multiple testing. The real number of victims could be much higher.

An independent exclusive report by Radio Farda based on the statements made by local officials and medical experts puts the number of those infected with the virus in Iran at more than 70,000 and the death toll at 4762 as of April 2.