2020-03-02 13:11:14

Death Toll Rises in Iran, Middle East Epicenter of Coronavirus

The official coronavirus death toll in Iran, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, has risen to at least 54 — the highest number of fatalities outside of China, where the outbreak began.

Experts say the real number of people who died from the disease may be as high as 200. This comes after Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, posted a video on social media last week acknowledging he contracted coronavirus.

Just one day before, he seemed ill at a press conference, where he downplayed the spread of coronavirus in the city of Qom and said mass quarantines were unnecessary.

Iranian authorities announced new efforts to combat the coronavirus on Sunday, calling on people not to use public transportation, and closing schools, universities and cultural centers.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.

Democracy Now! speaks with Dr. Kamiar Alaei, Iranian global health policy expert and co-founder and co-president of the Institute for International Health and Education.

He is a visiting professor at the University of Oxford.

Democracy Now! produces a daily, global, independent news hour hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. Our reporting includes breaking daily news headlines and in-depth interviews with people on the front lines of the world’s most pressing issues. On DN!, you’ll hear a diversity of voices speaking for themselves, providing a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events.

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Amy Goodman China Coronavirus Democracy Now! Dr. Kamiar Alaei Free Speech TV Iraj Harirchi Iran Middle East Qom World Health Organization

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