Iran said yesterday 141 more people have died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official toll in one of the world’s worst-affected countries to 2,898.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 3,111 new infections have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,606.
He said 3,703 of those hospitalised are in a critical condition and 14,656 have recovered.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the Covid-19 outbreak since it reported its first cases on February 19.
After weeks of refraining from imposing a lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided last Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
There is no official lockdown within Iran’s cities, although the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.
President Hassan Rouhani renewed those warnings yesterday as the climax of the two-week Persian New Year holiday nears.
He said authorities would close parks across the country today, in a move that effectively blocks the family picnics that traditionally mark the 13th day of holiday.
Rouhani called on people to “leave this tradition for some other time” and said violators would be fined.
The authorities have also stopped the print editions of all Iranian media until at least April 8, calling on them to publish online instead, state news agency IRNA reported.
“Publishing newspapers and other print media requires the activities of groups ranging from reporters to the printing and distribution industry and this could potentially increase the disease’s spread,” said a statement from Iran’s anti-coronavirus committee.
The outbreak has not spared Iranian lawmakers or other officials.
A parliament spokesman told the Tasnim news agency yesterday that at least 23 of the legislature’s 290 members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
NATURAL GAS EXPORTS STOP AFTER ATTACK
Iran said yesterday its natural gas exports to Turkey have stopped after an attack on a pipeline inside the neighbouring country, an Iranian official told state TV, Reuters reported.
“This morning, terrorists attacked a natural gas pipeline inside Turkey near Iran’s Bazargan border with Turkey...Flow of gas has been halted,” said Mehdi Jamshidi-Dana, director of National Iranian Gas Co.
“The pipeline has exploded several times in the past. It is also likely that the PKK group has carried out the blast,” he told Iran’s state news agency IRNA, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.
Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT Haber said the cause of the explosion was unknown. “The gas flow on the natural gas pipeline was cut and the fire that had started was extinguished by fire squads. Security forces are investigating the cause for the incident that caused damage on the pipeline,” TYRT Haber reported.
The pipeline, which carries around 10bn cubic metres of Iranian gas to Turkey annually, frequently came under attack by Kurdish militants during the 1990s and up until 2013, when a ceasefire was established.
Jamshidi said that because of the new coronavirus outbreak, “the Turkish border guards have left, but we have informed them of the explosion and are waiting for their response”, IRNA reported.
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