Iran’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 21,000: health ministry

Reuters – Iran’s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose by 119 to 21,020, the health ministry’s spokeswoman told state TV on Wednesday, with the total number of identified cases rising to 365,606.

Sima Sadat Lari said that 2,243 new cases were identified in the past 24 hours in Iran, rising from 2,213 a day earlier.

“Unfortunately we have been facing a surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks. I urge everyone to avoid unnecessary trips,” Lari said.

Iran’s top health officials have appealed to Iranians to avoid travelling during the Shi’ite Muslim religious holiday of Ashura later this week to avoid the risk of a new surge of coronavirus infections.

Ashura is the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram when, according to Islamic tradition, Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, was killed in battle in 680.

But despite warnings by the authorities against travelling, state media reported heavy traffic on roads leading to the Caspian coast in northern Iran, a favourite destination during holidays.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Jon Boyle