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 tweeted.

Iranian authorities today announced 149 new deaths from the deadly virus, raising the toll to 1,284 in a country that is one of the worst hit by the pandemic.

While Thursday’s death toll surpassed that of the previous day’s — 147 were reported on Wednesday — the number of new cases has fallen, according to figures provided by deputy health minister Alireza Raisi.

A total of 18,407 people have contracted the disease in Iran, with 1,046 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.

Tehran province had the highest number of new cases, with 137 reported, followed by the central province of Isfahan, with 108 and Gilan in the north with 73.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour tweeted that at the current rate, “50 new cases of infection are detected every hour and one death recorded every 10 minutes”.

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

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has defended the response to the new coronavirus outbreak by his administration, which has yet to impose a lockdown to stop the disease spreading.

Moreover, a 103-year-old woman in Iran has recovered after being infected with the new coronavirus, state media reported, despite overwhelming evidence that the elderly are most at risk from the disease.

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