Millennium Post

Iran says 'tens of thousands' may get tested for coronavirus

Dubai: Iran is preparing for the possibility of tens of thousands of people getting tested for the new coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases spiked again Saturday, an official said, underscoring the fear both at home and abroad over the outbreak in the Islamic Republic. The virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes have killed 43 people out of 593 confirmed cases in Iran, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.

He disputed a report by the BBC's Persian service citing anonymous medical officials in Iran putting the death toll at over four times as much.

But the number of known cases versus deaths would put the virus' death rate in Iran at over 7 per cent, much higher than other countries. That's worried experts at the World Health Organization and elsewhere that Iran may be underreporting the number of cases now affecting it.

Yet even as Iran sends spray trucks and fumigators into the streets, officials still are trying to downplay the virus' reach.

During these 10 days that we are talking about the coronavirus in the country, more than 480 people of our country has been killed in traffic accidents, but no one noticed them, Jahanpour said.

The virus has infected more than 85,000 people and caused more than 2,900 deaths since emerging in China. Iran, with 43 people dead, has the world's highest death toll outside of China. Of over 720 confirmed cases scattered across the Mideast, the majority trace back to the Islamic Republic.

Saturday's new toll of 593 confirmed cases represents a jump of 205 cases a 150% increase from the 388 reported the day before.

Jahanpour has warned that large increases in the number of confirmed cases would happen as Iran now has 15 laboratories testing for the virus.

Late Friday night, a BBC Persian report citing sources within Iran's medical community put the death toll at at least 210. State television in Saudi Arabia and associated media, as well as Iranian exile groups, seized on the figure amid their wider political disputes with Tehran. Jahanpour however disputed the report as being politically motivated, conflating other causes of deaths with the coronavirus and relying on sources without access to Iran's coronavirus testing labs.

The queen's media, BBC Persian, is worried about staying behind of Saudi and Albanian networks in the 'lie competition.' he said. Albania is home to the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.

However, at the same news conference, Jahanpour suggested tens of thousands could seek testing for the coronavirus. He also encouraged people to continue to avoid mass gatherings even funerals for those who died of the virus.

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