Coronavirus Cases Spike, 12 Dead


The death toll from the new coronavirus has risen to 12, with health officials reporting 61 confirmed cases of the infectious disease by Monday afternoon.
The total number of confirmed cases in Iran jumped from 43 to 61 in less than 24 hours, and four more have died from the virus, the head of the Health Ministry’s Media Center, Kianoush Jahanpour, said.
A majority of the new 18 confirmed cases are from the central city of Qom, the epicenter of the disease in Iran where a merchant with regular travels to China is supposed to have spread the infection. The virus has now been detected in nine provinces of Iran.
Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, the head of Health Ministry’s Department for Disease Control, said that over 1,700 samples have been tested for the COVID-19 in five laboratories across the country.
Tehran has set up a committee dubbed the National Committee to Fight Coronavirus, which aims to tackle the outbreak, and its first session will be chaired by President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday. 
The president has assured the public that the government will control the spread of the disease “in the shortest time possible and with a minimum number of deaths”.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki briefed lawmakers on the coronavirus flare-up in a Monday parliamentary session. Later in the day, he dismissed the claim made by Qom’s parliamentary representative, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, that 50 people have died in Qom due to the infectious illness.



Public Response

As a result, panicking Iranians flocked to pharmacies, where prices of facemasks and disinfectants have soared due to an apparent shortage. 
According to officials, 18 drugstores have been shut down on charges of overpricing and hoarding.
Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi said they identified two units producing masks in unsanitary conditions. 
The police have also found thousands of masks illegally stashed in Tehran.
Gyms, universities, schools, libraries and cultural centers are being closed in several cities, as part of efforts to stem the spread of the infection. 
Several countries, including Armenia, Pakistan and Turkey, have closed borders with Iran to halt the spread of the disease in the Middle East. Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Iraq have reported coronavirus cases linked to Iran.
Over 79,000 people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and more than 2,600 have died from the infection around the world, most of them in China, where the virus was first reported.

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