Iran reports 117 new virus deaths, raising total to 4,474

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The Islamic Republic has recorded 71,686 cases of the new coronavirus which causes the disease hours, taking the total to 71,686.

Iran on Sunday announced 117 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the overall official toll to 4,474, even as it eased some restrictions that had been imposed to slow the spread of the illness.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also told a news conference that 1,657 new infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 71,686.

Iran has carried out 263,388 tests for the virus so far, he added. Of those confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 and admitted to hospitals, 43,894 have recovered and been discharged, while 3,930 are in a critical condition.

Iran announced its first coronavirus cases on February 19 and has so far become the worst-hit country in the Middle East.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also announced in a cabinet meeting that an intercity travel ban in place since last month would be lifted on April 20.

But he repeated calls on Iranians to limit movements outside to “necessary” tasks and remain vigilant, as it remains difficult to “comment on the future” of Iran’s battle with the virus.

Schools and universities are still shut across the Islamic republic, as are cinemas, sports stadiums and revered Shia Muslim shrines.