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COVID-19 outbreak: Dubai airport suspends flights to and from Iran, except for Tehran

COVID-19 outbreak: Dubai airport suspends flights to and from Iran, except for Tehran

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Dubai International Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File photo

DUBAI: Dubai International Airport has suspended all flights to and from Iran, with the exception of its capital Tehran, an airport representative said on Tuesday (Feb 25).

Two more Iranians infected with COVID-19 have died in Iran, media said, taking to 14 its tally of deaths - the highest outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.

Iran's health ministry said on Monday 61 people had been infected in the country.

Bahrain, which reported a second case of the disease, said it was suspending all Dubai flights until further notice.

Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have also extended entry bans or closed their borders with Iran in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A WHO team would be arriving in Iran on Tuesday, said Michael Ryan, who heads the UN agency's health emergencies programme.

READ: World must prepare for 'potential pandemic' - WHO chief

He also cautioned against drawing any conclusions about the mortality rate. Iran "may only be detecting severe cases" because the epidemic was still at an early stage, he said.

"We need to understand the exact dynamics of what has happened in Iran, but clearly there have been gatherings for religious festivals, and then people coming and then moving afterwards," he said.

Iran's clerical rulers have been struggling to rein in the coronavirus outbreak since Wednesday, when Tehran confirmed its first two deaths, in the holy Shia city of Qom.

Authorities have ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts and closures of schools, universities, and sports complexes as a precaution.

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Source: AGENCIES/jt(rw)

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