Two elderly Iranians have died after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the city of Qom, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told. “Unfortunately, both patients who tested positive in preliminary tests passed away due to old age,” he said.
The deaths on Wednesday marked the first coronavirus fatalities in the Middle East. Three patients in Iran have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Iranian officials said on Thursday, the potentially deadly disease emerged in central China. The new cases come a day after the officials announced two people had died from the coronavirus.
“The total number of confirmed cases of the virus in Iran was five, including the two elderly Iranian citizens who died on Wednesday in Qom,” Jahanpur said in a tweet.
IRNA reported that the three new cases are all Iranians residing in Qom, with one of the infected having visited the city of Arak. Mohammad Mahdi Gouya, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister, said they did not appear to have had any contact with Chinese nationals.
Iranian authorities were now investigating the origin of the disease, and its possible link with religious pilgrims from Pakistan or other countries.
Iran’s Health Minister, Saeed Namaki said the roughly 60 Iranian students evacuated from Wuhan had been quarantined upon their return to Iran and were discharged after 14 days without any health problems.
Since Thursday, all schools and universities in the city of Qom closed their doors to stop the spread of the virus.
Local media reported on Wednesday that Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Qasem Jan-Babaei travelled to the city of Qom to assess the situation and that authorities were setting up emergency units for the treatment of contagious diseases there.
“We urge people to avoid shaking hands and kissing, to observe personal hygiene and preferably avoid crowded places,” Babaei said, adding that there is no reason to panic.
“There have been no reports of coronavirus in other cities so far,” he added.
Earlier this week, the WHO said the coronavirus caused mild disease in four out of five people infected.
On the analysis of data from China, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General, said some 14 percent of infected people suffer from severe disease including pneumonia, 5 percent have critical disease, while 2 percent die from the disease.