Iran on Friday reported eight new deaths from coronavirus, taking its overall toll to 34, as the number of infections jumped again in the Islamic republic, among the worst-hit countries.
An additional 143 cases have been detected over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed infections to 388, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.
It is the highest number of new cases for a single day since Iran announced its first confirmed infections on February 19 in the Shiite shrine city of Qom.
Among the new cases, 64 were in the capital Tehran, while the number of provinces hit by the outbreak rose to 24, Jahanpour said.
One of Iran’s seven vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi are among several senior officials who have been infected.
Iran has the highest death toll from the virus outside China, where COVID-19 first emerged.
Globally, more than 83,000 people have fallen ill with the coronavirus. China, though hardest hit, has seen lower numbers of new infections, with 327 additional cases reported Friday, bringing the country’s total to 78,824. Another 44 people died there for a total of 2,788. Worldwide, some 3,000 deaths have been reported.
The number of deaths and new infections has been tapering off in China, following unprecedented quarantine efforts locking down tens of millions of people in the worst-hit cities.
Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday. The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.
Belarus and Azerbaijan also reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus, while Georgia announced its second case, saying several more people in quarantine may test positive.
Japan’s schools prepared to shutter and the country’s Hokkaido island declared a state of emergency, with its governor urging residents to stay home over the weekend. The Swiss government banned events with more than 1,000 people, while at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, basins of holy water were emptied for fear of spreading germs.
South Korea has recorded 2,337 cases, the most outside of China. Emerging clusters in Italy and in Iran have in turn led to infections of people in other countries.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday the world was at a “decisive point” and countries could still contain the epidemic if they “act aggressively now.”
“No country should assume it won’t get cases; that could be a fatal mistake, quite literally. This virus does not respect borders,” Tedros said in Geneva.