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Iran deputy health minister tests positive for Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people globally, causing around 2,700 deaths, mainly in China. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
Tehran Updated on: February 25, 2020 18:40 IST
Iran deputy health minister tests positive for coronavirus
Image Source : AP

President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks while visiting a new highway that connects Tehran to the north of the country, Iran, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Rouhani sought to reassure the nation in a speech on Tuesday, calling the new coronavirus an "uninvited and inauspicious passenger." "We will get through corona," Rouhani said. "We will get through the virus." 

Iran deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi has been tested positive for coronavirus. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people globally, causing around 2,700 deaths, mainly in China. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

"The coronavirus test for Mr Harirchi, the deputy health minister who was on the front lines combating the coronavirus, was positive," Alireza Vahabzadeh, a media adviser to the health minister, said in a tweet.

Iran’s government said that 15 people had died nationwide from the new coronavirus, rejecting claims of a much higher death toll of 50 by a lawmaker from the city of Qom that has been at the epicenter of the virus in the country. The conflicting reports raised questions about the Iranian government’s transparency concerning the scale of the outbreak.

The new death toll came from Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour during an interview with Iranian state television. He said there were 95 confirmed cases of the virus in Iran, with many linked to Qom, a major Shiite religious center where other cases have emerged.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought to reassure the nation in a speech on Tuesday, calling the new coronavirus an “uninvited and inauspicious passenger.”

“We will get through corona,” Rouhani said. “We will get through the virus.”

Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman also announced their first cases of the virus on Monday and connected them to travel with Iran.

The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, has reported 13 cases of the new virus. Most of those were connected to Chinese travel.

Also Tuesday, Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases to eight, according to the state-run KUNA news agency, after earlier raising the number to five. It said the three latest cases involved Kuwaiti citizens just back from Iran, without giving more details. The five previously reported cases were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.

Kuwait had halted transport links with Iran over the weekend and said it was evacuating its citizens from Iran.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Health Ministry said four new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in the northern province of Kirkuk. It said the afflicted were members of an Iraqi family who had returned from a recent trip to Iran. Iraq announced the discovery of the first coronavirus case in the country on Monday in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf.

Iraq had earlier closed its border with Iran to Iranian nationals but apparently Iraqis can still cross the boundary.

(With inputs from AP)

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