Iran’s death toll from coronavirus rises to 1,284 (

FILE PHOTO: General view of a Tehran’s street, following the outbreak of coronavirus, in Tehran, Iran March 17, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Ali Khara via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s death toll from coronavirus jumped to 1,284 on Thursday, the health ministry said, with the total number of infections rising to 18,407 in the Islamic Republic, the worst-affected country in the Middle East.

The spread of the virus has dampened Iran’s celebrations for the Nowruz new year that begin on Friday. Authorities have urged people to stay home and avoid travelling during the new year holidays to help contain coronavirus contagion.

“With 149 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll from the virus has reached 1,284. Unfortunately we had 1,046 new cases of infection since yesterday,” deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said on state television.

The government has ordered the closure of schools and universities and banned sports, cultural and religious gatherings.

Nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi told state TV on Thursday that Iran would not mark its annual day celebrating its nuclear programme because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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