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Restrictions Imposed To Curb Outbreak As Over 6,500 Iranians Contract Coronavirus

Spraying disinfectant for coronavirus at historical Tajrish vegetable market in northern Tehran, Iran. March 6, 2020.

The official COVID-19 fatality figure in Iran has reached 194 as 49 more patients have died during the past day.

Announcing the new death toll, the Iranian Health Ministry's Spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur said on Sunday March 8 that 6,566 Iranians have tested positive for coronavirus (COVIUD-19) until Sunday morning.

He added that the figure includes 753 new cases that have been registered during the past day. However, he also said that so far 2134 Iranians who had previously contracted the virus have recovered and discharged from hospitals.

Jahanpur said that the Iranian capital Tehran is the worst affected city with over 1,800 cases followed by Qom with 685 cases and Mazandaran province 620 diagnosed COVID-19 cases. Tehran’s population is over 10 million.

In the meantime, the number of Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Isfahan which had 494 patients until yesterday. The figure for Isfahan on Sunday was announced as 564.

Speaking about the rapid growth of the outbreak, Jahanpur said that tens of patients in hospitals are in critical condition and the number of those tested positive is on the rise as more people are being tested.

Official statistics put Iran in the third place after China and South Korea as far as the number of patients are concerned, and in the third place for the number of deaths after China and Italy.

Local officials in many provinces have said entry routes to their provinces are closed to dissuade Iranian New Year visitors. They have also said hotels have been told not to admit any visitors for the New Year holiday which has unofficially started, although the official date for the beginning of the New Year is March 21.

Meanwhile, officials in Mazandaran and Isfahan Provinces say the number of COVID-19 cases in the two areas are rapidly rising.

In Gilan Province, the Health Ministry's representative has said that those who do not observe self-isolation and in-house quarantine rules "will be dealt with by use of force." A state of red alert has been declared in this province and dozens of medical staff have also reportedly contracted coronavirus.

The shortage of hygienic products including masks is still a major problem, although the Ministry of Health says it has distributed 10 million masks. Social media users, however, question the integrity of the claim pointing out the widespread shortage and high prices.

In a related development, IranAir has announced that its flights to all European countries have been cancelled until further notice. Although international observers link the development to fear of spreading coronavirus and the poor virus control in Iran, the airline announced on its Telegram channel that the development is linked to U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile, following rising concerns about the hygienic situation at Iranian cemeteries, Ezzatollah Zarghami, the former Chief of the state TV tweeted on Sunday that he has spoken to officials at Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery in Tehran and that he was told there are proper religious ceremonies and hygienic arrangements in place for all coronavirus-related burials.

Meanwhile some European countries, including the Czech Republic, have announced that they will not issue visas to Iranians in view of the outbreak.

Some other countries, including China, have announced that they will quarantine incoming passengers from Iran for 14 days before allowing them to visit the country.