Iran sees virus death toll climb to 354

TEHRAN (AP) – Iran said the new coronavirus has killed 63 more people, raising the death toll to 354 amid over 9,000 cases in the Islamic Republic.

That’s according to a Health Ministry spokesman who spoke in a live, televised news conference yesterday. Across the Mideast, more than 9,000 people have contracted the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes.

The majority come from hard-hit Iran, which has one of the world’s worst death tolls outside of China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

In Bahrain, authorities say their number of confirmed cases yesterday spiked by nearly 70 per cent to 189 confirmed cases.

The new cases were all on a returning flight of Bahraini evacuees from Iran.

Paramedics test samples taken from patients suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus at a laboratory in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran. PHOTO: AP

Officials found 77 on board tested positive for the new coronavirus, compared to the 112 already reported in the country off the coast of Saudi Arabia. It pushed Bahrain’s overall total to 189 confirmed cases.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

Iran’s supreme leader had said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will recognise doctors and nurses who die combating the new coronavirus as “martyrs” like slain soldiers.

The rising casualty figures each day in Iran suggest the fight against the new coronavirus is far from over, that the Guard is involved in the relief effort of a major catastrophe is not surprising in Iran.

The Guard, whose forces include an estimated 125,000-plus troops and 600,000 mission-ready volunteers, routinely respond to the earthquakes that shake the country. Recent floods saw its troops mobilise as well.

Its forces, which include virologists, faced chemical weapons during Iran’s eight-year war against Iraq.

Saudi Arabia closed off air and sea travel to 14 countries affected by the new virus on Monday.