Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that coronavirus has spread to almost all of Iran’s provinces, but that the outbreak would cause a “minimum” number of deaths.
“This disease is a widespread disease,” he said during a Cabinet meeting, Reuters reported. “It has reached almost all our provinces and in one sense it’s a global disease.”
Rouhani seemed to criticize the U.S. offer last week to help Iran stem the spread of the virus, saying: “They’ve appeared with a mask of sympathy that ‘we also want to help the people of Iran.’ If you are really telling the truth, then lift sanctions from medicine.”
The Iranian Health Ministry said on Tuesday that 92 Iranians had died and 2,922 had contracted coronavirus, but some experts believe the true numbers are higher, with The New York Times citing experts as estimating that around 4,000 are infected.
So far the Iranian vice president, deputy health minister and 23 members of parliament are among current or former senior officials to have contracted the virus, the Times reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, Iranian Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi became the first top official in the Islamic Republic to die from the virus.
The government canceled Friday prayers across the country due to the outbreak, state TV reported on Wednesday.
Some Gulf states are also reporting new coronavirus cases, Reuters reported. Oman reported three new cases that includes two Iranians, raising the total to 15, and the Dubai Health Authority reported another infection, raising the total in the United Arab Emirates to 28.
Bahrain on Wednesday reported three new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 52.