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COVID-19: Iran Announces Death Toll Passes 30,000; Serbia Begins Tighter Restrictions


Iran has been experiencing record infections and fatalities in recent weeks.

The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 1.1 million, with more than 39 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions

Iran

Iran announced on October 17 that its death toll from the coronavirus has passed the milestone of 30,000.

The announcement by Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari saw Iran put its total death toll from the outbreak at 30,123 killed, with 253 new deaths being added to the official count in the past 24 hours.

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Lari said that 4,721 coronavirus patients are in critical condition.

Iran has been struggling to contain the coronavirus since announcing its first cases in February, with more than 526,000 confirmed cases to date. Real figures in the worst outbreak in the Middle East are believed to be significantly higher.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who had tested positive for the virus in March, told state TV last week that the country’s true death toll is estimated to be about double the reported figures.

In recent weeks, Iran has been experiencing record infections and fatalities, sparking increasing concern even as the government continues to resist a total lockdown for fear of cratering the economy, which is under intense pressure due to crippling U.S. sanctions.

Last week, Iranian officials announced a travel ban to and from five major cities, including the capital, Tehran, and the holy city of Mashhad, that they said was aimed at containing the spread of the deadly virus.

Serbia

Serbia has implemented new coronavirus restrictions, including on mask-wearing.

"Masks must be worn by everyone, everywhere, including outdoors.... This is mandatory," said Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, a member of the government's crisis staff.

Kisic Tepavcevic also said municipalities will be ordered to ban public gatherings and said a sports arena in Belgrade will be prepared by October 19 to accommodate patients with milder COVID-19 symptoms.

Kisic Tepavcevic said the situation in Serbia is more favorable than the rest of Europe, but added, "that should not comfort us, because the virus has a great potential for rapid spreading."

Serbia has so far reported 35,454 cases and 770 fatalities, with 203 new cases reported on October 15.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and IRNA
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