The coronavirus death toll in Iran rose to 6,685 with 45 more fatalities over the last 24 hours, state media reported on Monday.

A further of 1,683 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past day, raising the overall count to 109,286, Iran’s state broadcaster reported, citing a statement by the Health Ministry.

It said 87,422 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals so far, while 2,703 patients remain in critical condition.

In Iran, one of the Middle Eastern countries hardest hit by the pandemic, COVID-19 was first detected in the city of Qom on Feb. 19 and then spread throughout the country.

The government decided against imposing a total lockdown as seen in many other countries, but did close educational institutions and banned cultural, religious, and sports gatherings.

Since April 11, authorities have been gradually allowing the reopening of “low-risk” businesses closed as part of measures to contain the virus.

The government also decided to reopen mosques in low-risk areas, while schools in these regions are set to resume on May 16.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed nearly 283,000 worldwide with more than 4.11 million total infections, while recoveries surpassed 1.41 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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