Iran has confirmed almost 6,000 coronavirus infections and 145 deaths as the number of cases worldwide passed 100,000, officials say.
A second MP was reportedly among those to have died in Iran, where health officials fear the number of cases may actually be much higher.
Europe’s worst hit-country Italy also reported a steep rise in cases.
Leading Italian politician Nicola Zingaretti said on Saturday he had tested positive for the virus.
“I am fine but I will have to stay home for the next few days“, the leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said in a Facebook post.
The death toll in Italy has risen to 197, with officials reporting 49 deaths in 24 hours.
The country has said it will start recruiting retired doctors in an effort to combat the escalating outbreak.
There have so far been nearly 3,500 coronavirus deaths recorded worldwide. The majority have been in China, where the virus originated in December.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” and urged all countries to make containment “their highest priority”.
In other developments:
- A hotel reportedly used as a coronavirus quarantine facility in the Chinese city of Quanzhou collapsed
- Pope Francis is to deliver Sunday’s Angelus Prayer by livestream to avoid the usual crowds forming
- A cruise ship with 3,533 passengers and crew is being held off the coast near San Francisco after 21 people tested positive for the disease. All on board are being tested
- The popular South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, has been cancelled
- Malta, Serbia, Slovakia, Peru and Togo reported their first cases of the virus
What’s the latest on cases?
In Iran, 21 people were reported to have died as a result of coronavirus in the past day.
A spokesman for Iran’s health ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour, said in a televised news conference on Saturday that more than 16,000 people were currently being tested in the country.
He added that 1,669 people with the illness had recovered.
The WHO’s representative in Iran, Dr Christoph Hamelmann, said Iran was making tremendous progress at its hospitals, with facilities made available for treatment in every province.
Among other countries to report a rise in the total number of cases are: France (to 716); Germany (684); Spain (441); the UK (206); the Netherlands (188).
More than 80,000 people have been infected with coronavirus in China since its emergence in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province. Globally the number of infections stands at more than 100,000.
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