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Iran Hits 60,000 Virus Deaths; Bans Incoming Travellers from 32 Nations

People wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Tajrish traditional bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

People wear protective face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Tajrish traditional bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The Health Ministry reported 93 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday.

Iran has surpassed 60,000 known coronavirus-related deaths, the latest grim milestone for the hardest-hit country in the Middle East. The Health Ministry reported 93 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday and more than 8,000 new infections, pushing the total infection count over 1.63 million.

After more than a year of the pandemic, deaths from COVID-19 recently have declined in Iran as movement restrictions in the capital have set in, including inter-city travel bans, mask mandates and school closures. The government on Sunday banned incoming travelers from a list of 32 countries, including Britain and other states in Africa and Latin America, due to fears of new virus variants.

Over the year, Iran has struggled with surges that at times overwhelmed its health system as authorities resisted a total lockdown to salvage an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions. Iran's vaccine drive recently has gotten underway, with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine administered to health workers this month. An additional 250,000 doses by the Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical Sinopharm arrived in Iran over the weekend.

The country is also accelerating efforts to produce a domestic vaccine, beginning human trials for its second vaccine on Sunday.

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first published:February 28, 2021, 19:24 IST