People wearing face masks are seen next to Azadi tower in Tehran, Iran, March 25, 2020. Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education reported 143 new deaths from the virus, raising the country's overall death toll to 2,077 on Wednesday. The total confirmed cases increased to 27,017, of whom 9,625 people have recovered. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
CAIRO, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Iran's death toll from COVID-19 passed 2,000 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a new lab built by China was inaugurated in Iraq to help it cope with the raging novel coronavirus.
Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education reported 143 new deaths from the virus, raising the country's overall death toll to 2,077. The total confirmed cases increased to 27,017, of whom 9,625 people have recovered.
Iran, which detected the first cases on Feb. 19, is the hardest-hit country in the Middle East so far.
Iranian army on Wednesday launched a 2,000-bed hospital in the capital Tehran as part of its intensified efforts to combat the raging pandemic. The hospital, set up at the permanent venue of Tehran International Exhibitions, has the capacity to accommodate 1,000 more beds.
The ground force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday kicked off a "biological defense" exercise and disinfection operations across the country. The three-day operations will cover 3,000 locations across Iran, including 100 in the capital Tehran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that stricter measures will be taken to protect public health amid rising deaths from the coronavirus.
Rouhani added that Iran has intensified a global campaign for the removal of U.S. sanctions in order to combat the coronavirus, including raising the issue at the UN Security Council.
In Baghdad, a new laboratory built by the Chinese team of experts was inaugurated on Wednesday in the Iraqi capital, to improve Iraq's COVID-19 testing capability.
The lab could do as many as 1,000 tests for coronavirus per day, said Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao in a ceremony at the Medical City complex in downtown Baghdad.
Iraq has so far confirmed 316 COVID-19 cases, 27 of whom have died. To help Iraq cope with the coronavirus, a Chinese team of seven experts arrived in Baghdad on March 7.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 561 new cases of COVID-19 on late Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 2,433. The death toll in Turkey rose to 59, after 15 new deaths were reported.
In Israel, 439 people were tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, as the total number of confirmed cases surged to 2,369. Two more patients died from the disease, raising the death toll in Israel to five.
Saudi Arabia reported a rise of 133 COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 900. One new death was recorded, bringing the death toll to two in the kingdom.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered a complete closure of three cities, Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, starting from Thursday, and banned people from leaving 13 other cities, as part of precautionary measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported 85 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases of infections to 333. The new cases included seven UAE citizens.
Morocco reported 55 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections to 225, six of whom have died.
Egyptian Health Ministry announced 54 new COVID-19 cases, raising the country's total number of infections to 456, including 21 deaths and 95 recoveries. One new death was recorded, bringing the total number of fatalities from the disease in Egypt to 21.
The number of COVID-19 infections in Lebanon increased by 29 cases to 333 on Wednesday. Lebanese security forces have adopted tough measures to control the movement of people in a bid to stop the virus spread.
Jordan reported a rise of 19 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the kingdom to 172.
Qatar announced 11 new cases, leading to 537 the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Kuwait reported four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 195.
Syria on Wednesday added four new cases, raising the total number of COVID-19 infections to five, as the government started a curfew to curb the virus outbreak.
Tunisian health authorities announced Wednesday the fourth death from COVID-19, who was an elderly man who died Tuesday in the city of Sousse in eastern Tunisia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey proposed to set up an international fund under the auspices of G20 as global coordinating actions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Cavusoglu made the statement one day before G20 leaders are set to hold a summit through video-conference on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkey has so far recorded 1,872 coronavirus cases, of whom 44 have died.