“In Qom and other provinces, including Tehran and Gilan, more people with coronavirus and those suspected of the disease have been released from hospital after complete treatment,” Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of public relations and information center of the Iranian Ministry of Health, said on Thursday.
In addition to the 30 people, whose release was announced yesterday, as many as 22 more were discharged today, he said, Presstv Reported.
The country, the official said, has begun a far-and-wide search aimed at identifying the patients. As of Friday, as many as 15 laboratories will be performing diagnosis of suspected patients, he said, noting that the number of these facilities will increase to 22 in the upcoming week, and could reach 40 in the weeks that would follow.
Jahanpour said the increase in the number of the laboratories has helped identify 106 cases of infection since Wednesday, adding that seven more people had died from the virus in the same time span.
“Therefore, there are a total of 245 people across the country, who have been found to be definitely infected with the virus, and 26 have so far lost their lives to the infection,” the official announced.
Among the newly-diagnosed patients, thirty-eight people are from Tehran, 23 from the northern province of Gilan, and eight from the central province of Isfahan, he noted. The north-central city of Qom, and the northern Mazandaran Province each have seven cases, while the northwestern Ardabil Province contains five cases, Jahnpour said.
Alborz Province that borders Tehran Province, the northern Semnan Province, and the western province of Lorestan have each reported three patients, and Kermanshah, another western province, and the northwestern East Azarbaijan Province contain two cases each, he reported.
There is one case per province in the western provinces of Hamedan and Kordestan, the northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province, the northwestern West Azarbaijan Province, and the central province of Yazd, the official said.
Jahnpour urged the public to reduce the number of their intra-urban and inter-urban trips and avoid gatherings that could contribute to the disease’s spread.
The virus — named COVID-19 — first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and is now spreading in Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic.
Around 2,800 people have died in China and more than 80,000 have been infected. There have been more than 50 deaths and 3,600 cases in dozens of other countries, raising fears of a pandemic.
In Iran, the virus showed up in the north-central city of Qom, a destination for Muslim pilgrims from across the world.
Iranian medical officials have assured that Iran would, in the near future, rein in the outbreak, noting that the condition of many patients diagnosed with the virus had improved.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite defense force, has expressed preparedness to help fight the outbreak, and Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has assigned his Ministry's subsidiary organizations with the task of mass-producing liquid disinfectants and protective masks, which are currently in high demand as Iranians want to take protective measures to guard against the virus.
The country has, meanwhile, announced the closure of universities, and the government is to decide on the closure of schools on Friday.
Moreover, health centers have been tasked with distributing protective face masks.
Jahanpour said screening process has gone underway at the entrance to some cities, adding that suspected cases would be quarantined for a space of 14 days.
He described most of the fatalities as people above 60 years of age, those suffering from chronic illnesses, or those taking medicines that suppresses their immune system. People suffering from diabetes, pulmonary diseases, asthma, and autoimmune diseases have also been found among these victims, he added, but did not rule out existence of exceptions, whether concerning the victims’ age or their description, among those who have succumbed to the virus.
‘20,000 diagnostic kits heading for Iran’
Also on Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said around 20,000 testing kits, made in cooperation joining the Chinese government and its Red Cross, were to be freighted to the Islamic Republic by air on Friday.
Right after the emergence of the outbreak, the Foreign Ministry placed examining its international aspects, including provision of the required medical supplies, on its agenda, he said.
“Within this framework, the country has pursued receiving voluntary aid from friendly states,” Mousavi said, noting, “This process is gradually being finalized.”
On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani also said coronavirus testing kits developed by Iranian experts were undergoing final tests and would enter the mass-production stage in the near future.
Friday prayers called off
The country’s Friday Prayers Policymaking Council, meanwhile, released a statement, calling off this week’s prayers in 23 cities, including Tehran, the shrine cities of Qom and Mashhad, and a number of other provincial centers.
The Council also said the prayers would not take place in other cities that have been declared as “sensitive points” by their respective provincial governors and deans of provincial medical universities through written statements.
Baqer Pishnamazi, head of Tehran Friday Prayers Headquarters, said the Council will soon release a statement addressing the conduct of the prayers in coming weeks, adding that it was yet to be decided and announced whether the prayers would go underway in the weeks that follow.
WHO: Iran has ‘high clinical capacity’ to manage patients
In a related development on Thursday, Director general of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reflected on the rising rate of coronavirus infection in Iran, saying, however, that the rising number of cases in the Islamic Republic does not have “anything to do with clinical care.”
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, Ghebreyesus said, "There is a very high clinical capacity for managing severely ill patients in Iran, so I don't suspect this has anything to do with clinical care. I suspect this is more to do with surveillance and detection of cases."
Also present in the press conference was Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies program, who said, "The most likely factor is that obviously this disease came unseen and undetected into Iran; so the extent of infection may be broader than what we are seeing."
"As is the case in many epidemics when they start, is that you only see the severe end of the spectrum and then as you do more surveillance, you find more mild cases.