The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has affected almost all of Iran's provinces, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, according to the presidency's official website.
"This disease is a widespread disease," he said. "It has reached almost all our provinces and in one sense it's a global disease."
The Iranian health ministry confirmed 15 new deaths and 586 new cases on Wednesday.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, put the country's armed forces on alert Tuesday to assist health officials in combating the outbreak of the virus, known as COVID-19, that authorities say has killed 77 people.
Iranian media reported that 23 members of parliament now had the virus, as did the head of the country's emergency services.
"Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin,” Khamenei said, who has not worn gloves at past arbor day plantings.
After downplaying the coronavirus as recently as last week, Iranian authorities said Tuesday they had plans to potentially mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus. It wasn't clear if Khamenei's order would set them in motion helping sanitize streets, direct traffic and track possible contacts those ill with the virus had with others, as initially suggested.
There are now over 2,530 cases of the new coronavirus across the Middle East. Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic.
Yet experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, now around 3.3%, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be far greater than current figures show.
Iran stands alone in how the virus has affected its government, even compared to hard-hit China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
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