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Iran reports fifth COVID-19 death, most outside Far East

Iran reports fifth COVID-19 death, most outside Far East

An Iranian street vendor sells protective masks in the capital Tehran AFP/ATTA KENARE

TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday (Feb 22) reported one more death among 10 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the Islamic republic to five and infections to 28.

"We have 10 new confirmed cases of COVID-19," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on state television. "One of the new cases has unfortunately passed away."

READ: Drop in new China COVID-19 cases as toll reaches 2,345

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

They were the first confirmed deaths from the disease in the Middle East.

Since then, Iran has carried out tests on 785 suspected cases, Jahanpour said.

"Most of the cases are either Qom residents or have a history of coming and going from Qom to other cities," the health ministry spokesman said.

Health officials called on Thursday for the suspension of all religious gatherings in Qom.

Qom is a centre for Islamic studies and pilgrims, attracting scholars from Iran and beyond. An official said the first two victims, who were Qom residents, had not left Iran.

The United Arab Emirates last month became the first country in the Middle East to report cases of the coronavirus strain. It now has 11 cases.

SPREAD IN MIDEAST

Following the announcement of the 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 also announced it would suspend all of its flights to Iran.

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Source: AGENCIES/aa

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