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Health official: One person dying every 10 minutes from coronavirus in Iran

An Iranian health official announced on Thursday that one person in the nation is dying from coronavirus every 10 minutes. 

Health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur tweeted the statistic as infections and the death toll continue to rise in Iran, which has been the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East. 

“Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran,” Kianush Jahanpur said, according to a translation by Reuters.  

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Iran has confirmed more than 18,400 coronavirus infections and its death toll reached 1,284 as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

The country has the third-highest number of cases and deaths, trailing China, where the virus is believed to have originated, and Italy. China has recorded more than 81,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths, while Italy has documented more than 35,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths.

Iran reported 149 deaths on Thursday in its biggest single-day rise. On Wednesday, 147 deaths were reported in the nation.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended the nation’s response to the virus, saying officials “spoke to people in a honest way” and “had no delay” after some criticized the government for a lack of transparency.

The U.S. banned entry from foreigners who traveled through Iran weeks ago as Tehran began to struggle with the virus.