The death toll in Iran from the coronavirus rose to 6,418, as 78 new deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, state media reported on Wednesday.

A total of 1,680 more people tested positive for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 101,650, Iran’s state broadcaster reported, citing a statement by the Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.

Jahanpour said 81,587 people have recovered so far and been discharged from hospitals, while 2,735 other patients are in critical condition.

In Iran, one of the Mideast 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.

According to Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Wednesday, the government has decided to reopen hair salons in the country.

Since April 11, authorities in phases have allowed the reopening of “low-risk” businesses closed as part of measures to contain the virus’ spread.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that the country will reopen mosques in districts that saw a decline in the number of coronavirus infections as of Monday.

Addressing a virus task force meeting on Sunday, Rouhani said mosques will reopen and Friday prayers congregations will resume in 132 towns and cities labeled “white” or “low-risk” areas, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

The government also plans to reopen schools in the low-risk areas as of May 16, Rouhani said.

Since first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 187 countries and regions, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

Nearly 3.6 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll surpassing 257,700 and more than 1.2 million recoveries, according to data compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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