Iran says 43 infected with coronavirus, 8 dead - official

Reuters

Posted at Feb 23 2020 08:35 PM

Iranian family wear protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus, as they stand at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran Feb. 20, 2020. West Asia News Agency/Nazanin Tabatabaee via Reuters

DUBAI - Iran has confirmed 15 new cases of the new coronavirus, taking the total to 43 with a death toll of eight. Most of the infections have been in the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom.

"The virus came from China to Qom city. A Merchant from Qom who died of the virus used to regularly travel to China ... Flights were suspended between the two countries but he used indirect flights," Health Minister Saeed Namaki said.

He urged people to avoid traveling to Qom, a major destination for Shi'ite pilgrims 120 km (75 miles) south of the capital Tehran.

"Obviously we do not recommend trips to Qom or any other holy Shi'ite cities in Iran," Namaki said on state television.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced the 15 new cases earlier on Sunday.

"So far, we have 43 infected cases and the death toll is eight," he told the television.

Eight of the new infections were in Qom, where authorities have shut down schools and religious seminaries. In Tehran and some other cities, schools have been closed until Tuesday.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Philippa Fletcher)