Iran has introduced new measures to contain the spread of a flu-like virus originating from China as the novel coronavirus infections and fatalities rise.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry increased the death toll from the virus to 54 and the number of confirmed infections in the country to 978 people.
The ministry’s spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also noted that a total of 175 corona patients had already recovered and been discharged from hospitals.
Most of the infections have been reported in the cities of Tehran, Rasht and Qom, where the virus was first found in the country.
In a letter addressed to the heads of universities of medical sciences on Saturday, Deputy Health Minister Qasem Janbabaei ordered all state-run, public, private and charity hospitals to receive coronavirus patients.
Janbabaei also ordered all clinics to admit people infected with the virus and provide round-the-clock service if needed. Elsewhere in his letter, the official banned all visits to coronavirus patients.
Director of the Pasteur Institute of Iran Alireza Biglari announced that more than 22 laboratory centers are currently equipped with coronavirus testing kits.
The institute’s capacity has increased tens of times, enabling it to swiftly diagnose samples taken from hospitalized patients, he said.
Separately, the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs advised chemically-injured Iranians as well as those suffering from spinal, respiratory and liver problems to stay at home.
Head of the coronavirus management campaign in Tehran Alireza Zali said Health Minister Saeed Namaki has ordered all coronavirus patients to be provided free treatment.
To contain the spread of the virus, Iranian banks have decided to reduce their working hours, while schools and universities have been closed and concerts and sports events banned.
The coronavirus first emerged in China late last year and is now spreading in Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic.
Since December 2019, almost 87,000 people have been infected in several countries, with nearly 2,980 deaths mostly in China.
The World Health Organization announced on Friday that the coronavirus outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk for the world.