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54 now dead from virus in Iran, almost 1K confirmed cases

54 now dead from virus in Iran, almost 1K confirmed cases
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Iran's health ministry reported on Sunday that the death toll in the nation from coronavirus has risen to 54 and the number of confirmed cases has almost reached 1,000.

Iran, which has the second-highest number of deaths from the disease behind China, now has 978 confirmed cases, marking a dramatic increase overnight. On Saturday, Iran reported 43 deaths and 593 infections.

The health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said the number of cases is “still inclining” and the newly confirmed cases are in several Iranian cities, according to The Associated Press.

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More than 40 percent of the new cases are in Tehran, where schools and cinemas have been closed for two weeks, the AP noted, adding that public buses and metro in the capital are still running and being disinfected daily.

There are also cases in Mashhad, where Iran’s most important Shiite shrine is located. The Iranian government has reportedly requested clerics close these shrines, but not all have obeyed, including the one in Mashhad.

Jahanpour also said 44 cases were confirmed in the Markazi province, which previously had none, according to the AP.

Iran currently has a death rate of 5.5 percent, which is higher than other countries, meaning there could be more infections than are currently being reported. 

Flights to and from Rasht, within the Gilan province, have been suspended, according to Iran’s state broadcaster. The area reportedly has some of the most infections outside of Tehran and the holy city of Qom.

The Revolutionary Guard has also announced it will build mobile hospitals in Qom and Rasht, the AP reported. 

The virus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to infect more than 87,000 people worldwide and killed almost 3,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The first case in Iran was reported Feb. 19, and more than 1,100 cases in the Middle East can be traced back to Iran.