Coronavirus in Iran kills one every 10 minutes, says health official

At least 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran said Kianush Jahanpur

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The new coronavirus kills one person every 10 minutes in Iran, the health ministry spokesman tweeted on Thursday, as the death toll in the Middle East worst-affected country climbed to 1,284.

"Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran," Kianush Jahanpur, Head of public relations and information at the Health Ministry, tweeted.

The country has been hard hit by the virus that started in China at the start of the year but has stopped short of a total lockdown to contain the cases as was ordered by Beijing.

With Nawrouz set for this weekend, thousands of Iranians are expected to ignore calls to self-isolate and travel instead to the coast or to villages to celebrate the annual festival.

The virus has already killed or infected dozens of senior Iranian officials and the government has called the victims martyrs as it drafted in the army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to assist in the battle.

But Tehran has also been accused of trying to hide the true extent of the spread until it was too late, causing a rapid increase in cases until it was almost impossible to contain.

When the country should have been taking steps, it marked the 1979 revolution with mass rallies and held elections.