Selin ATAY-TDO- Iran’s Health Ministry has estimated that the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is claiming a life every 10 minutes in the country, state media reported on Thursday.  Around 50 Iranians are contracting the virus every hour, Health Ministry Spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said.

In a tweet, Jahanpour also urged people to spend Nowruz, the country's New Year celebrations, at home this year.

The COVID-19 death toll in the country shot past a grim landmark on Wednesday, reaching four digits for the first time, with a total of 1,135 lives lost, Iranian state television reported.

Deputy Health Minister Alireza Reisi was quoted as saying that 147 people died over a 24-hour period, while 1,192 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 17,361.

Reisi, addressed the fight against the epidemic at a conference with the rectors of medical universities in Iran.

He said that so far 22 million 500 thousand people have been screened in the context of the national struggle against coronavirus and that 1 million 500 thousand people have been monitored.

"If we can't get the coronavirus under control for up to 15 days, we will have to fight against it for another 2 months. At this point, we're going to take very heavy casualties "Deputy Health Minister Alireza Reisi said.

A doctor working at a hospital in the capital Tehran died on Thursday. So far, 10 doctors and four nurses have died of COVID-19 in Iran.

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