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Iran reports nearly 50 new coronavirus fatalities, stops flights to Europe

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s Health Ministry has reported 49 new coronavirus fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total deaths from the illness in the country to 194.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on March 8 that there are over 6,500 confirmed coronavirus infections in Iran.

About 1,800 infections have been confirmed in the capital, Tehran, while cases have been confirmed in all of the country’s 31 provinces.

Jahanpour urged Iranians to avoid traveling around the country and to stay at home as much as possible.

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The country will soon celebrate the Persian New Year, when millions of Iranians traditionally travel to the provinces.

IranAir, the country’s civilian air carrier, announced the same day that it was suspending all flights to Europe because of “the restrictions that have been placed on [IranAir] flights by Europe for unclear reasons.”

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of several other Iranian officials, including an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader and a former envoy to the Vatican.

A number of other officials have tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Masumeh Ebtekar, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, and more than 20 parliament deputies.

Iran has closed schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and reduced working hours across the country to slow the contagion.