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International News

Feb 21, 2020
12:00PM

Iran confirms three new coronavirus cases

AIR Pics
Iran has confirmed three new coronavirus cases following the deaths of two elderly men. The health ministry told AFP that the pair who died were Iranian citizens and residents of the city of Qom. They were the first confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 virus in West Asia.

Health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpour said two of the new cases were also in Qom and the other was in Arak. Qom is a centre for Islamic studies and tourists, attracting scholars from Iran and beyond. Quoting Iran's government spokesman Ali Rabiei, state news agency IRNA said, Tehran would set up a top-level body of government and defence officials to fight the virus' spread.

Following the announcement of the deaths in Iran, Iraq has clamped down on travel to and from the Islamic republic. A senior official said, border crossings with Iran have been closed, with only returning Iraqis allowed to pass through. Iraqi airports are already screening travellers for the virus and national carrier Iraqi Airways has suspended flights to Iran. Meanwhile, in Kuwait, national carrier Kuwait Airways announced that it would suspend all flights to Iran, while its ports will also be closed to passengers travelling to and from the country.

Kuwaitis were advised not to travel to Qom, and were warned anyone arriving from the city they would be quarantined. Since December, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,200 people in China, the epicentre of the epidemic. Elsewhere in the world, the virus has killed 11 people and spread across some 25 countries. 


 

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