Iran failing to stop coronavirus outbreak; death toll reaches 2,757
President Hassan Rouhani, hitting back at criticism over the country's response, has said he had to weigh protecting the country's sanctions-hit economy while tackling the worst outbreak in the region. He described international outcry at his government's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak as a "political war".
Facing criticism over its lax response to the coronavirus pandemic, Iran – the worst-hit country in the Middle East – has reported a surge in death toll. Till Monday, 2,757 people have died with 117 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of cases in the country has climbed to 41,495.
"In the past 24 hours we had 117 new deaths and 3,186 new confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus," Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on Iranians to stay at home.
President Hassan Rouhani, hitting back at criticism over the country's response, said he had to weigh protecting the country's sanctions-hit economy while tackling the worst outbreak in the region. Rouhani described international outcry at the government's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran as a "political war".
"Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us," Rouhani said. "We must put these principles together to reach a final decision."
"This is not the time to gather followers," he added. "This is not a time for political war."
Meanwhile, state media has reported that prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot -- the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country.
Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the disease, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called "security cases".
Governor Enayatollah Rahimi of the southern Fars province was quoted as saying by the state-run IRNA news agency that a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison, the main lockup in the city of Shiraz.
Rahimi said prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals. No one was wounded and no one escaped.
IRNA reported last week that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Iran's western Kurdistan province. Prisoners beat guards during the chaos, a local prosecutor said. Several inmates later returned on their own to the prison.
Since the beginning of the year, riots have broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz as well, with some prisoners escaping, IRNA reported.