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Medical firm staff work in a lab on coronavirus testing kits just outside Tehran on April 11. Image Credit: AP

Tehran: Iran on Saturday reported 125 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the overall toll in the Middle East’s worst-hit country to 4,357.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 1,837 new infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 70,029.

Iran has carried out 251,703 tests for the virus so far, he added.

Of those admitted to hospital, 41,947 have recovered and been discharged, while 3,987 are in a critical condition.

The update came as Iran began reopening government offices Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the outbreak, in a bid to protect its sanctions-hit economy.

Iran announced its first coronavirus cases on February 19.

There has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections in the country could be higher.

In response to the health crisis, Iran shut schools and universities as well as cinemas, stadiums and revered Shiite Muslim shrines.

It also warned people to refrain from travel for the Persian New Year holidays that ended last week. A ban on intercity travel remains in place.

Qatar, Oman cases

This came as Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced another 216 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 2, 728, Qatar News Agency reported.

Twenty more people have also recovered from the virus, taking the total number of patients recovered in Qatar to 247, the ministry revealed.

Oman reported 62 more cases on Saturday, taking the total number of cases registered in the Sultanate to 547 and the number of deaths three.

Meanwhile, Yemen, which Friday announced its first coronavirus case, is wracked by a war which has killed tens of thousands and caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

Over the past six years, tens of thousands of people - mostly civilians - have been killed in the conflict, according to aid organisations.

More than three million people have been displaced within Yemen, living in camps.

Amnesty International said in December 2019 that some 4.5 million people living with disabilities are faced with growing difficulties in the country.

In the worst cases, the disabled people are left behind by their families after being separated while fleeing their homes, it said in a report.

Collapse of health system

Aid organisations have on several occasions over the past months warned of the country’s ailing health system and the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.

Yemen is “critically under-equipped” to face the pandemic, said Xavier Joubert, country director for Save the Children in Yemen after the first case was announced.

“Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are still fully functional,” said Joubert.