March 5, 2020 - 18:24 AMT
Iran closes down schools, universities as coronavirus death toll rises

Iran closed down schools and universities on Thursday, March 5 for a month to prevent a further spread of the new coronavirus disease, as the death toll from the virus continues to rise across the country, the Middle East Eye reports.

Iranian authorities, however, have ruled out quarantining the city of Qom, which has become the epicentre for the virus in the Middle East.

"People should not consider this as an opportunity to go travelling. They should stay at home and take our warnings seriously," said Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki.

Namaki said that the number of diagnosed cases for the coronavirus had reached 3,513, with the death toll rising to 107.

Earlier, the minister said all schools and universities will be closed until the end of the Iranian calendar year on March 20.

Iran has reported a higher deaths-to-infections ratio when compared to other countries, sparking fears that the number of people infected may be higher than current figures show.

Several MPs and top officials have been infected by the virus, with a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dying from the illness.

Photo. Reuters