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Iranian women, members of paramilitary organisation Basij, make face masks and other protective items at a mosque in the capital Tehran. Image Credit: AFP

Tehran: The trajectory of coronavirus infections in Iran appears to have started a “gradual” downward trend, the government said Monday, but it warned the disease is far from being under control.

The COVID-19 outbreak claimed 136 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing Iran’s overall death toll to 3,739, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference.

Iran registered 2,274 new cases of infection over the same period, he said, putting the total number at 60,500 across the country.

The figure shows a drop in officially reported new cases of the novel coronavirus for the sixth consecutive day after a peak of 3,111 reached on March 31.

Iran is by far the country most affected by the pandemic in the Middle East, according to official tolls released by each state.

“Due to the intensification of the social distancing policy, we have seen a gradual and slow decline in the number of new cases in recent days,” Jahanpour said.

President Hassan Rouhani reiterated a call for people to stay at home as he warned Iran could be “put back in a difficult situation” unless people follow guidelines.

“I hope that the strongest possible adherence to these instructions... will allow us to enter a phase of disease control and containment,” Jahanpour said.

In an attempt to limit the spread of the disease, the authorities have not confined the population but have resorted to other restrictions such as closing most businesses deemed non-essential.

Rouhani announced on Sunday that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the resumption of certain economic activities “step by step” from April 11.

Meanwhile, Kuwait reported Monday 109 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total infections in the country to 665, including one fatality, according to a health official.

The latest cases include eight linked to travel to the UK, Spain and the US.

The 101 others were in contact with previously infected people, spokesman for the Health Ministry Dr Abdullah Al Sanad said in a media briefing.

This came as Oman’s Ministry of Health (MoH) reported today 33 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases registered in the Sultanate to 331, including 61 recoveries and two deaths, Oman News Agency reported.

The ministry called on all citizens and residents to adhere to procedures by staying in an isolated room attached to a toilet, and serve the isolated person from outside the room as instructed. It also advised all citizens and residents to wash their hands regularly , avoid touching the face, nose, mouth, and eyes and follow healthy habits when coughing and sneezing.