Tehran: A parliament spokesman said Monday that four more people had died from the corona virus in Iran, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 12, the highest number so far outside of China.
“The minister of health announced the deaths of 12 people and 47 cases of infection in the country,” Assadollah Abbassi was quoted as saying by semi-official news agency ISNA after a closed session of parliament.
Abbassi reported the same number of deaths in the Fars News Agency and the Young Journalists Club affiliated with National Television, but they quoted him as saying that there were “about” 47 infections.
Quoting Abbassi, ISNA added that “according to the health minister… the cause of coronavirus infections in Iran are people who have entered the country illegally from Pakistan, Afghanistan and China”.
On Sunday, Health Minister Said Namaki said that a man who died of the corona virus in Qom, south of Tehran, was a businessman who had traveled to China several times.
Namaki asked the Iranian government in January to suspend all commercial flights between Iran and China, but this was unsuccessful.
In a speech on national television on Sunday, the minister said that direct flights between Iran and China have now been suspended, but Qum traders have “turned” to get there.
Iran is working to curb the COVID-19 outbreak since the first two deaths in the holy city of Qom were announced last Wednesday.
Since then, authorities have ordered the closure of schools, universities and other educational centers throughout the country as a “preventative measure”.
The new coronavirus has killed more than 2500 people in China since its rise in December.
Iran currently accounts for nearly half the death toll in the rest of the world, currently at 30.