Deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593, an Iranian health official said on Saturday.
The country is at the epicenter of the outbreak in the region, with several countries in the Middle East reporting cases of the coronavirus stemming from Iran.
“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours, increasing the death toll to 43,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on people to stay at home.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Friday warned of “a very difficult week” ahead in Iran, which only announced its first infections and deaths from the coronavirus on Feb. 19 and where the death rate among confirmed cases has been around 10%, compared to around 3% elsewhere.
Tehran has ordered the shutting of schools until Tuesday and extended the closure of universities and a ban on concerts and sports events for a week. Authorities have also banned visits to hospitals and nursing homes.
Several high-ranking officials, including a vice minister, the deputy health minister and five lawmakers, have tested positive for the virus as the outbreak forced Iran’s clerical rulers to close the parliament and impose internal travel bans.