Turkey overtakes Iran in coronavirus cases, becomes highest in MENA region

Two women wearing protective facemasks and face-shields, speak together as they walk in the streets of Ankara. (AFP)

Turkey’s confirmed coronavirus cases shot up to 86,306, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Sunday, the highest total for any country in the Middle East and North African region and outside Europe or the United States.

Earlier on Saturday, Koca had said that the country’s cases numbering 86,306 had overtaken neighboring Iran for the first time to register the highest total in the Middle East.

The latest figures on Sunday showing increase of 3,977 cases in the last 24 hours lifted Turkey’s confirmed tally above that of China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged.

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Koca said 127 more people have died, taking the death toll to 2,017. A total of 11,976 people have recovered from coronavirus so far, and the number of tests carried out over the past 24 hours came to 35,344, the minister said.

Turkey only reported its first coronavirus patient on March 10, but has seen the number of confirmed cases rise sharply since then. It now has the seventh-highest total in the world. So far it has tested more than 634,000 people.

On Saturday, the Interior Ministry said it was extending restrictions on travel between 31 cities for a further 15 days starting at midnight on Saturday.

Iran death toll at 5,118

Meanwhile, Iran on Sunday announced 87 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the official toll to 5,118, as it takes steps to reopen the economy.

It is the sixth consecutive day that Iran has announced a death toll under 100, though Sunday’s toll was 14 higher than the day before.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1,343 new infections had been confirmed, taking the total to 82,211.

Iranians wearing protective mask walk past graffiti on a wall in Tehran on April 13, 2020 during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Iran's health ministry today reported another 111 deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking the official overall toll in the worst-hit Middle East country to 4,585. Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1,617 new infections took the total number of cases in the country's outbreak to 73,303, of whom 45,983 had recovered.

Iranians wearing protective mask walk past graffiti on a wall in Tehran on April 13, 2020 during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Iran's health ministry today reported another 111 deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking the official overall toll in the worst-hit Middle East country to 4,585. Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1,617 new infections took the total number of cases in the country's outbreak to 73,303, of whom 45,983 had recovered.

Of those admitted to hospital, 57,023 have recovered and been discharged, while 3,456 remain in critical condition.

The Islamic republic has struggled to contain what is the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak since reporting its first cases on February 19.

Some officials and health experts in Iran and abroad have said the country’s casualty figures may be higher than those declared.

Turkish people applying for free masks face delays:

On Saturday, Iran allowed some “low-risk” businesses in the capital Tehran to reopen, after approving similar measures in other provinces last week.

“Medium-risk” businesses could reopen on Monday, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday after a meeting of the national coronavirus taskforce.

The reopening of the economy has drawn criticism from health experts and even some government officials.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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