Another 97 people in Iran infected with the coronavirus have died, pushing the death toll to 611, state TV reported on March 14.
Citing a Health Ministry official, the report said Iran, suffering the worst outbreak in the Middle East, has registered a total of 12,729 confirmed cases.
Critics fear the real number of cases, however, could be much higher amid questions over the government’s transparency with regard to the issue.
Clerical rulers have already closed schools and universities and suspended religious, cultural, and sports events across the country to combat the outbreak.
On March 13, a top Iranian military official said Iranian security forces have been ordered to clear the streets across the country within 24 hours as the country struggles to contain the virus.
Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the armed forces chief of staff, said in televised remarks: “Our law enforcement and security committees, along with the Interior Ministry and provincial governors, will be clearing shops, streets and roads.”
On March 12, Tehran said it was seeking a $5-billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help finance the country’s efforts to fight the contagion.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on March 12 to immediately lift sanctions over the country’s nuclear program. He said they made it difficult to import medicine and medical equipment.