With 96 new deaths reported in Iran, the death toll from the coronavirus surged to 5,806, state media said on Monday. 

A total of 991 more people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total infections to 91,472, Iran’s state broadcaster reported, citing a statement by Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.

Jahanpour said 70,933 people have recovered so far and been discharged from hospitals, while 3,011 patients are 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 refrained from imposing a total lockdown as seen in many other countries, but extended closures of educational institutions and banned cultural, religious, and sport gatherings.

Authorities, meanwhile, have in phases since April 11 allowed the reopening of businesses that were closed as part of measures to slow the spread of the virus. The state also plans to reopen mosques in parts of the country that have been consistently free of the virus.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 206,800 people, with total infections exceeding 2.98 million, while nearly 870,000 have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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