Iran, coronavirus: the number of victims rises to 14, at least 61 infections

Two more victims today, but data is contested: a Qom MP speaks of at least 50 deaths alone in the holy city. Categorical denial of the authorities, but the toll remains uncertain. Several countries in the area close  borders with the Islamic Republic. Qatar calls for voluntary isolation of passengers from Iran and South Korea.


Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - With the last two victims recorded in these hours, the overall death toll related to the new coronavirus in Iran rises to 14 while the controversy rages over a possible "cover-up" by the authorities about the real extent of the emergency . The latest deaths are confirmed by the University of Medical Sciences in Saveh, according to which "tests showed that [the victims] had" Wuhan's coronavirus (Covid-19).

As for the infections, the official figures released by the Ministry of Health speak of 61 people affected. Most of these are in the area of ​​Qom, the Shiite holy city where the outbreak of the epidemic originated in the country which then spread to other countries in the Middle East. Government sources, behind anonymity, say that the cause of the epidemic would be "the illegal entry of people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and China".

To date, several countries in the area have decided to close the borders with the Islamic Republic. Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Afghanistan and Iraq have registered the first cases of coronavirus. All the infected people had previously been to Iran. Kuwait, in an attempt to contain the epidemic, has asked Baghdad to close the borders between the two nations. In addition, Qatar intends to ask passengers from Iran and South Korea to remain in voluntary isolation - at home or in appropriate facilities - for quarantine for a period of 14 days.

Meanwhile, the Iranian deputy minister of health has denied the allegations of covering up the emergency linked to the epidemic, in response to statements by a Qom parliamentarian that so far only "lies" have been spread. For Ahmad Amirabadi-Farahani the death toll, in the holy city alone, would be at least 50. The ministry rejected "this information categorically". "This is not the time for political controversy," added Iraj Harirchi, because coronavirus is "a national problem".

However, Ahmad Amirabadi-Farahani insisted on the accusations stressing that "he had provided 40 names of deceased persons to the vice minister. Now I await your resignation. " For the World Health Organization (WHO), the peak in infections that has been reported in recent days in Iran - as in Italy and South Korea - is a source of "great concern" with a view to containing the global spread of the virus. Today a team of experts is expected to arrive in the country.