Iran's death toll closes in on 6,000, Turkey prosecutes virus provocations

Cuban doctors on mission to S. Africa

The death toll in the Persian republic is now at 5,95. Iran is facing the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East with more than 91,000 confirmed cases.

The false belief that toxic methanol cures the coronavirus has seen more than 700 people killed in Iran, an official said Monday. That represents a higher death toll than so far released by the Iranian Health Ministry.

Iranian Hossein Hassanian of the country's health ministry said the difference in death tallies is because some alcohol poisoning victims did not die in hospitals. "Some 200 people died outside of hospitals," Hassanian said.

Alcohol poisoning has skyrocketed by 10 times over in Iran in the past year, according to a government report released this month, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The national coroner's authority said alcohol poisoning killed 728 Iranians between Feb. 20 and April 7. Last year there were only 66 deaths, according to the report.

Separately, the Iranian health ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 525 people have died from swallowing toxic methanol alcohol since Feb. 20, state TV reported Monday. He said a total of 5,011 people had been poisoned from methanol alcohol. He added that about 90 people have lost their eyesight or are suffering eye damage from alcohol poisoning.

Iran is facing the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, with 5,806 deaths and more than 91,000 confirmed cases.

Turkey prosecutes virus provocations

Turkey has detained 402 people in the past 42 days on charges of sharing "false and provocative" social media postings concerning the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Monday.

The Interior Ministry said officials have inspected more than 6,000 social media accounts, and the 402 suspects were among a total of 855 account-holders sought by authorities for sharing posts deemed to be "provocative."

A ministry official said the social media users were detained in connection with attempts to "cause panic" over the pandemic with posts that, among other things, accuse the government of not doing enough to curb the outbreak or of lying about the numbers of deaths or infections.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.

The country has reported a total of 2,900 deaths and more than 112,000 confirmed infections. It ranks seventh in the world for the number of confirmed infections, according to Johns Hopkins University, but experts believe the actual toll of the pandemic is higher than the tally.

Cuban doctors on mission to S. Africa

More than 200 doctors from Cuba have arrived in South Africa to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The doctors, including community health and infectious disease specialists, arrived early Monday and were welcomed by military and health authorities.

South Africa requested assistance from the Cuban government, which is sending more than 1,000 doctors to 22 countries, including Togo, Cape Verde and Angola in Africa.

South Africa has reported the highest number of confirmed covid-19 infections in Africa, with at least 4,793 cases and 90 deaths.

Some of the Cuban doctors have been "in the front line of fighting other outbreaks in the world such as cholera in Haiti in 2010, and Ebola in West Africa in 2013," said South African health minister Zweli Mkhize.

The Cuban medical personnel will stay in a two-week quarantine before starting work. They have arrived as South Africa is increasing community testing, especially in poor, crowded neighborhoods.

-- Compiled from wire reports

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