Over 3,500 coronavirus cases in Iran, 107 deaths: Health ministry

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Iran on Thursday reported 15 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and 591 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the toll to 107 dead and 3,513 infected.

“Until today, samples have been taken of 23,327 suspected cases, only 3,513 of which have been confirmed,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference.

“Unfortunately 15 people have passed away, raising the total number of the dead to 107,” he added, noting that the provinces of Tehran, Qom, Gilan, and Esfahan are the worst hit.

Iran’s health minister said earlier on Thursday that authorities will begin manning checkpoints to limit travel between major cities amid virus.

Iran and Italy have the highest death toll in the world outside of China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Twenty-three Iranian MPs have so far tested positive for coronavirus, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Abdolreza Mesri said on Tuesday.

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The Iranian government has been criticized for its response to the crisis.

After reports of the initial outbreak in the city of Qom, US Secretary Mike Pompeo voiced his concern that the authorities were suppressing the real numbers. Pompeo's comments followed the MP from Qom, who said that the number of infections were far higher than the official tally.

And on Tuesday, Masoud Pezeshkian, the first deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, said that the reported official figures on the number of coronavirus cases in Iran are “not real.”

Iranian officials had previously been seen spraying chemicals on the streets.

On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei provoked criticism when he described the outbreak as “not that big of a deal.”

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