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Tue, Feb 25, 2020 6:06

Coronavirus death toll reaches 16; infected 95 in Iran

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Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a Health Ministry official told state TV on Tuesday.

Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a Health Ministry official told state TV on Tuesday.

Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.

“Among those who had been suspected of the virus, 35 have been confirmed and two died of the coronavirus infection,” said Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour. He said 95 people had been infected across Iran.

The Health Ministry urged Iranians to stay at home.

Iran said on Monday 900 cases were suspected, dismissing claims by a lawmaker from the holy Shi’ite city of Qom who said 50 people had died in the city, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak.

“It is an uninvited and inauspicious visitor. God willing we will get through ... this virus,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a televised speech.

Iran, which confirmed its first two deaths last week in Qom, has yet to say how many people it has quarantined, but the semi-official Mehr news agency said 320 people had been hospitalized.

The outbreak in Iran comes as its clerical rulers face mounting U.S. pressure that has hit the economy hard. In 2018, the United States exited Tehran’s nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions on the country.

The virus outbreak threatens to isolate Iran further, with several countries suspending flights after coronavirus cases in travelers from Iran were confirmed in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some neighboring countries have closed their borders. The United Arab Emirates state news agency reported on Tuesday that Dubai International Airport had suspended all flights to and from Iran.

Oman’s Khasab port is suspending the import and export of goods to and from Iran from Feb. 26 because of the coronavirus outbreak, operator Marafi said on Twitter.