Iran medical council says coronavirus crisis still developing

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FILE PHOTO: Members of firefighters wear protective face masks, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as they disinfect the streets, ahead of the Iranian New Year Nowruz, March 20, in Tehran, Iran March 18, 2020.

Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, with a total of 17,361 confirmed cases, roughly 90 percent of the region's cases.

"Considering this information, make a conscious decision concerning travel, days out and family visits during Nowruz", the Persian New Year holiday, he said.

The regime has consistently underreported the number of people infected or killed by the virus and has turned the issue of statistics into a security matter, thus covering up the extent of the public health crisis facing Iran and the world, the NCRI said. Almost 1,200 Iranians in total are reported to have died - although the regime's lack of transparency and increasing reliance on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to enforce "social distancing" protocols likely means the number is higher.

If they offer medium cooperation, there will be 300,000 cases and 110,000 deaths, she said.

Most of the infected are in Tehran, which has reported about 4,400 cases.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani in separate new year messages vowed to overcome the coronavirus and increase economic growth.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday pleaded for humanity, asking the worldwide community to lift sanctions on Iran - in the wake of the global coronavirus scare.

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In an effort to contain the disease, the Islamic Republic made a request to Azerbaijan, the rotating head of the NAM, to issue a statement on behalf of the 120 countries it represents condemning unilateral United States sanctions.

Earlier on Monday, the state TV had announced the shrines' closure, sparking the demonstrations.

"We have neither the capacity nor the ability to put Tehran under quarantine".

Since it announced its first two deaths in the holy Shiite city of Qom on February 19, Iran has taken a series of steps to contain the coronavirus.

"So far, some 85,000 prisoners have been released".

"Those who will be pardoned will not return to jail. nearly half of those security-related prisoners will be pardoned as well", judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told state TV.

The 80-year-old ruler also claimed the country had "benefited" from American sanctions, which had made it more self-sufficient, during his live speech.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six countries and reimposed sanctions on the country, crippling its economy.

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