Iran reports 17 new coronavirus deaths, 124 in total
Islamic Republic has tested more than 15,980 people for the virus since it emerged in the country
TEHRAN: Iran on Friday announced 17 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the total number of people killed to 124, as the overall number of cases soared.
"We have confirmed 1,234 new cases, which is a record in the past few days," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference, raising the total number of infections to 4,747.
The new cases "are probably those who had been infected with the virus two weeks ago and... just came to us with symptoms," he added.
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Iran has tested more than 15,980 people for the virus since it emerged in the country, according to Jahanpour.
"The number of those who have recovered from the disease has reached more than 913," he noted.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus which has infected people in all 31 of its provinces.
The official said Tehran has 1,413 confirmed cases so far, which is the highest among all provinces and makes it an "epicentre" for the virus.
He bemoaned the "heavy traffic in the north of the country" as Iranians flock to popular tourist spots "despite numerous warnings and all the threats this poses."
"Please, do not travel to northern provinces . . . by doing this you are gifting the virus to your family and friends."
The country has closed schools and universities until early April in a bid to contain the virus, but according to Jahanpour, the long holidays ahead appear to have prompted people to travel north.
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Iran has not officially quarantined any province, but it has tried to limit domestic movement and set up checkpoints across the country.
It intensified restrictions on Friday as the police announced all people travelling to Mazandaran and Gilan -- other than residents of those provinces returning from elsewhere -- will be turned back.
Gilan is among the worst-hit provinces in the country by infections.