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Virus the size of human hair exposes India's large fault line

By Saturday India had reported 918 infections and 19 deaths, triggering community infection fears.

Tehran

28 March, 2020, 08:37 PM IST

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TEHRAN

'Virus at Iran's gates': How Tehran failed to halt outbreak

Days of denials gave the virus time to spread in Iran as it marked the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution with rallies and then held a parliamentary election in which authorities desperately sought to boost turnout.

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    In recent months, Iran has violated all main provisions of the nuclear pact, increasing its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water past its limits, adding prohibited centrifuges, and enriching uranium past the purity allowed.

    ​​The new count brings the number of those killed by the virus in the country since mid-February to 194, one of the highest tolls outside of China, where the disease originated.

    "We have confirmed 1,234 new cases, which is a record in the past few days," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference, raising the total number of infections to 4,747. The new cases "are probably those who had been infected with the virus two weeks ago and have just came to us with symptoms," he added.

    Iran has scrambled to halt the rapid spread of the virus that has claimed 92 lives out of 2,922 confirmed infections in the past two weeks. It has shut schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and cut back on work hours. Trump had said Saturday he was ready to aid Iran with the virus outbreak if the Islamic republic asked for assistance.

    A top emergency official and at least 23 members of parliament reportedly contracted the virus and now suffer from the COVID-19 illness it causes. There are now over 2,540 cases of the new virus across the Mideast, with 2,336 in Iran alone. Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic.

    Mehr didn’t give a final breakdown, saying that more than 220 out of 290 members of parliament will be hardliners and conservatives. The official turnout was 42.5%, the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic.

    It will mean more scrutiny of transactions with Iran, tougher external auditing of financing firms operating in the country and add pressure on the few banks and businesses still operating with Iran. "It will be placed on the blacklist today," said a Western diplomat. "The consequence of (Iran's) inaction is higher costs of borrowing and isolation from the financial system."

    Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack on Friday.

    President Donald Trump said Wednesday Iran appeared to be "standing down" after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in n...

    A Ukrainian airplane carrying 180 passengers and crew crashed Wednesday near an airport in the capital, Tehran, state TV reported. There was...

    The genesis of the turmoil that lead to the recent killing of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani goes back to 1980 when the British founded the Anglo-Persian Oil Company to tap into Persia's oil reserves.

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