Concerns grow in Iran as coronavirus deaths, infections climb

Qom citizens, fearing the worst, have curtailed their travelling plans as the holy city remains on lockdown amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: bne IntelliNews)

Health officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran have announced 13 new infections of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city of Qom on Friday

A report from the semi-official Mehr news agency further noted that two of those who contracted COVID-19 died, bringing the total number of deaths to four since the Middle Eastern country confirmed its first case on Wednesday.

In all, Iran has confirmed 18 cases of infection, with the Qom outbreak coming at a critical time when the Iranian population goes to polls to vote in today’s parliamentary elections.

A spokesperson for the local health ministry said Qom, which is under lockdown, has been linked with all 18 cases, having either resided or visited the holy city recently.

Health official Minoo Mohraz – suspecting the spread of the coronavirus in Iran is linked with a Chinese company building a solar power plant in Qom – said the virus “possibly came from Chinese workers who work in Qom and travelled to China.”

She made no further attempts to elaborate.

As a precautionary measure, neighbours Iraq has closed its border with Iran as the Persian state ramps up efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Kuwait, also, has issued a travel warning for citizens attempting to travel to or from Iran.

Qom, in the meantime, has been exporting the novel coronavirus, as Lebanese officials confirmed their first case in that country on Friday.

At a press conference this afternoon (local time), Health Minister Hamad Hassan confirmed the patient was a 45-year-old woman who arrived Thursday on a flight from Qom.

Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan (Photo: Yahoo! News)

He said the woman was in “good health” and the ministry was also following up on the cases of two other people suspected of having the illness.

The infected woman and two other suspected victims are being quarantined at the Rafik Hariri government hospital in Beirut.