An infectious disease expert has warned of a "disaster" in Iran if the authorities failed to impose a travel ban during Nowruz, the Persian New Year holiday, to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Highlighting that the virus was spreading in Iran even faster than China, Masoud Mardani of the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences said the authorities were slow to respond to the outbreak.
"The pandemic has spread to other cities from Qom because the city could not be isolated in a timely manner," said Mardani, who is also a member of the Iranian coronavirus science council.
He said between 100-150 people die and thousands get infected with the virus every day in Iran.
Mardani, however, claimed that the daily data announced by the country’s Health Ministry includes only the cases recorded in hospitals.
"The real figures could be higher than the official numbers," he said.
The Iranian expert said that U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic were negatively affecting the ongoing fight against the deadly virus in the country.
Mardani praised humanitarian assistance supplied by some countries, including Turkey, to Iran to curb the pandemic, while accusing the EU countries of failing to provide any significant assistance.
A total of 122 people have died from coronavirus in Iran over the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll up to 1,934, with 24,811 infections, according to the health ministry.
First emerged in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 spread to at least 169 countries and territories.
According to John Hopkins Coronavirus Resources Centre, more than 392,700 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with a more than 17,150 deaths./aa