Two Die of Coronavirus in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Iran’s health ministry Friday reported two more deaths among 13 new cases of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, bringing the total number of deaths to four and infections to 18.

“Thirteen new cases have been confirmed,” ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Twitter. “Unfortunately, two of them have lost their lives.”

Voters with face masks fill out their ballots in the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, on Friday. But looming over the election is the threat of the new coronavirus, which has been confirmed in five people in Iran this week, including two elderly citizens who died in the city of Qom. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The COVID-19 outbreak appeared in Iran on Wednesday, when officials said it killed two elderly people in the Shiite holy city of Qom, the first confirmed deaths from the disease in the Middle East.

The newly reported cases included “seven in Qom, four in Tehran, and two in Gilan” on the Caspian Sea coast, Jahanpour tweeted.

“Most of the cases are still either Qom residents” or were people who had come from Qom to other provinces “in recent days and weeks,” he said.

The official did not say anything about the suspected source of the outbreak in the Islamic republic.

He said that Iran had received from the World Health Organization four shipments of medical kits used to detect COVID-19.

Qom is a center for Islamic studies and tourists, attracting scholars from Iran and beyond.

However, a government official said the first two people who died of the disease had not left Iran.

After the announcement of those deaths, Iraq on Thursday clamped down on travel to and from the Islamic republic.

The health ministry in Baghdad said people from Iran had been barred from entering Iraq “until further notice.”

Kuwait’s national carrier Kuwait Airways said it would suspend all of its flights to Iran.

Iran is holding a parliamentary election Friday, with state media saying that the coronavirus had not been able to dampen “the revolutionary zeal of Qom’s people” to turn out to vote.

© Agence France-Presse

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