Pakistan closed its borders with Iran in an effort to stop the potential spread of coronavirus after Iran reported 43 cases of the disease.
Four more people have died of coronavirus in Iran, a spokesman for parliament said Monday, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 12, by far the most outside China.
A Balochistan official in Pakistan and the country’s Frontier Corps also confirmed that it had sealed its land border with Iran.
“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 gave the same death toll in reports by Fars news agency and the Young Journalists Club, a branch of state television, but they quoted him as saying there were “around” 47 infections.
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— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 23, 2020
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 one person who died of coronavirus in Qom, south of Tehran, was a businessman who had made several trips to China.
Namaki had unsuccessfully pleaded in January for Iran’s government to order the suspension of all commercial flights between Iran and China.
In his remarks to state television on Sunday, the minister said direct flights between Iran and China were now suspended, but the Qom businessman had traveled there “on a connecting flight”.
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Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since it announced the first two deaths in the holy city of Qom on Wednesday last week.
Authorities have since ordered the closure of schools, universities and other educational centers across the country as a “preventive measure”.
Since it emerged in December, the new coronavirus has killed more than 2,500 people in China. Iran now accounts for nearly half of the deaths elsewhere in the world, which currently stands at 30.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk