Nine countries across the region have closed their borders with Iran as the deadly coronavirus continues its spread throughout the country

World Sergey Matyunin 24-Feb-2020
China Virus
ID 169970012 © Delstudio | Dreamstime.com

Nine countries across the region have closed their borders with Iran as the deadly coronavirus continues its spread throughout the country.

According to ILNA news agency the death toll in the Islamic Republic reached 50. This figure places Iran as by far the most deadly epicentre for the virus outside of China.

“Up until last night, around 50 people died from coronavirus. The health minister is to blame,” MP Ahmad Amirabadi Farhani said on Monday. Ten people die in Qom daily due to the coronavirus outbreak in the city, he added.

In response, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi denied the figures and said he would resign if Amirabadi Farhani’s numbers were correct. “If the number of coronavirus victims in Qom is a quarter of what media outlets are reporting, I will resign. The figure is incorrect, and we are sure of our statistics,” he said.

However, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianush Jahanpour rapidly revised the total up on Monday, saying there are now 64 confirmed cases in the country.

Amirabadi Farhani also criticized the government’s efforts to control the virus. “Qom is in a poor state and the government has been unsuccessful in controlling the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

The government is not “worried enough” about the outbreak, he added, stating: “It is true that we should keep calm, but we must not act like nothing has happened.”

He added that coronavirus has been in Qom for three weeks already, but nurses were still unprepared.

Five of Iran’s seven neighbours, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Armenia, have closed their borders to the Islamic Republic.

Other regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Georgia have also imposed travel and immigration restrictions.

Iran’s other two neighbours, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, are reportedly intensifying border checks to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Qatar Airways also announced that it would quarantine passengers arriving from Iran and South Korea for 14 days, even if they show no signs of the coronavirus.

The speed of the spread has brought into question ability to detect the virus, with the three infected travellers from Iran who journeyed to Kuwait all originating from the city of Mashhad that has yet to report any confirmed cases of coronavirus.