Coronavirus: Vice President, Minister, Lawmaker infected as deaths rise to 34 in Iran

The number of victims of the coronavirus in Iran has increased from 26 to 34, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told a news conference on Friday.
Among the people who have been infected in Iran are politicians such as Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar; Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi; and a member of parliament, Mojtaba Zonnouri.
According to Jahanpur, a total of 388 people, 143 more than the previous day, from different parts of the country had tested positive for the virus.
In the capital Tehran alone, 64 more people have been infected in the last 24 hours, according to Jahanpur.
At the same time, 73 patients were released from hospital after recovering, the spokesman said.
However, experts assume the number of infected people to be much higher.
Iran cancelled Friday prayers in 22 of the country’s 31 provinces, according to media reports, in response to the growing spread of the coronavirus.
Alongside China, South Korea and Italy, Iran is now one of the disease’s hotspots.
The decision to cut back on a key part of Iranian public life indicates how serious the outbreak is in the country.
Iran’s Health Ministry has advised against all public events, such as weddings or funeral ceremonies.
Schools and universities will remain closed for the time being, and will probably not be opened again until the end of the Persian New Year holidays at the beginning of April.
Cinemas, theatres and concert halls are also still closed.
Sporting events, especially first and second division soccer matches, will either not take place at all or be staged without spectators.
Most Iranians appear to be staying at home and avoiding going out in public for fear of infection.
It’s a difficult situation for shops and restaurants, which would normally be benefiting from increased demand around the Persian New Year, which falls on March 20 this year.
Most foreign airlines have cancelled their flights to Iran.
Elsewhere in the Gulf region, the Kuwaiti Health Ministry on Friday confirmed two more coronavirus cases, raising the total of infections in the country to 45.
Kuwait has already announced closing schools and universities for two weeks in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading.
The coronavirus, which first emerged in central China in December, has infected thousands of people in dozens of countries.