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Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize outdoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran. REUTERS/FILE PIC
Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize outdoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran. REUTERS/FILE PIC

TEHRAN: Iran’s health ministry reported 49 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll within 24 hours since the start of the outbreak in the country.

“At least 194 of our compatriots who fell sick with the Covid-19 illness have passed away,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised news conference.

The outbreak of the virus in Iran is one of the deadliest outside of China, where the disease originated.

Jahanpour added that 743 new infections were also confirmed within the past 24 hours, bringing the number of cases to 6,566 spread across all of Iran’s 31 provinces.

With 1,805 infections, the capital Tehran remains the province with the most cases, the spokesman added.

But the situation in other provinces continued to deteriorate, with Jahanpour saying 685 cases were detected in and around Qom, the holy Shiite city south of Tehran where the country’s first cases were reported.

He said the number of cases was also “rising quickly” in Isfahan, a popular tourist destination, where there were now 564 people sick with the virus.

No official widescale quarantine measures have been enforced but several provinces have announced they would not provide lodging for tourists in an effort to dissuade travel.

Iran has been scrambling to contain the spread of the virus, closing schools and universities until the end of the Iranian New Year celebrations and holidays in early April, a period when people typically travel and visit family.

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